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Ex Libris 
C. K. OGDEN 



', 




THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

OP 

SOCIAL LIFE; 

t 

OR 

THE ART OF CONVERSING WITH MEN: 

AFTER THE GERMAN 



3ARON KNIG 



IN TWO VOLUMES. 



B r P. WILL, 

MINISTER OF THE REFORMED GERMAN CONGREGATION 
THB SAVOY. 



VOLUME THE FIRST. 



LONDON* 

PRINTED FOR T. CADE LI., JUN. AND W. DAVIES. 
M DCCXCIX. 



?Ti 



?3 



TO 



v./ 



WILLIAM CURTIS, GENT. 



AT 



HAMBURG; 



THESE rOLUMES 



ARE DEDICATED, 



AS A MARK OF HIS ESTEEM AND AFFECTION, 



THE EDITOR. 



a 2 



PREFACE. 



A HE greater part of the subsequent pages, is 
the result of the observations and experience of 
Baron KNIGGE, a Nobleman whose talents are 
justly respected in Germany, where he acted a 
conspicuous part in the republic of letters, and 
on the stage of the great world. His active 
temper urged him with irresistible impetuosity 
to render .his abilities and scientific knowledge 
useful to mankind ; but being persecuted in the 
very beginning of his public career, by the 
heavy blows of adverse fate, beset by numerous 
enemies whom his independent spirit and the 
superiority of his mental accomplishments had 
provoked,' frequently misguided by his too easy 
confidence in the rectitude of men, precipitated 
by his fiery enthusiasm for truth and the hap- 
piness of his brethren, and an implacable enemy 



VI PREFACE. 

to despotism and intolerance, he failed in all his 
plans to secure a post in which he could have 
exerted his talents and the benevolence of his 
heart for the benefit of his fellow-citizens. 
Aspersion and the persecution of a set of men 
who hated him, because he scorned to cringe and 
to be subservient to their selfish views and op- 
pressions, compelled him to quit his native 
c'ouhtry, and to become a citizen of the world at 
large. He rovecl Germany, for some years, ill 
all directions, sometimes being a visitor of the 
palades of the great, and sometimes a humble 
pedestrian, mixing with the middle and inferior 
rahks; atld exerting all the energy of his mind 
tb accommodate himself, as much as honesty 
and the consciousness of his innate dignity would 
permit^ to the prejudices, customs, and peculia- 
rities of those with whom he cultivated a tem- 
porary connexion. This enabled him to ac- 
quire a most extensive and profound knowledge 
of the human heart, of its numerous turnings 
arid windings, of the most effective means of 
1 



PREFACE. Yli 

getting access to it, of the principal causes of 
the want of social happiness which he discovered 
in the splendid circles of the great, in the hum- 
ble habitations of the middle ranks, and in the 
cottages of the poor, and the most successful 
means of rendering our intercourse with our 
brethren more comfortable and cheerful. The 
acquisition of that useful store of the most va- 
luable knowledge animated him with additional 
zeal to contribute his mite to the reformation of 
our degenerated age, and in this disposition of 
mind he became more intimately acquainted 
with Weishaupt and Zwack, the two principal 
founders of the Order of the Illuminati. Their 
gigantic plan to collect a host of the greatest 
geniuses of all ranks and countries around them, 
to check by the joint efforts of their abilities 
and power the progress of the growing evil, 
their pressing solicitations to take a leading part 
in their confederacy, and the hope of being en- 
abled by siich a powerful union to employ his 
talents more successfully for the benefit of 



PREFACE. 

mankind, were charms which his heart could not 
resist. He accepted the offer, and became one 
of the most active and successful leaders of the 
union. But alas ! he soon beheld with grief 
and sorrow that the alluring prospects which had 
been held out to him, were nothing but a 
charming dream, and was at last convinced that 
the society in which he had been received, 
would never be capable of accomplishing the 
arduous task which was the primary object of 
their union, as but few of its members were ani- 
mated with that heroic disinterestedness and 
self-denial which were required, if the power in- 
vested in their hands were to prove beneficial to 
the world. Party-spirit, arnbition and other 
passions soon began to undermine the fabric ; 
caballing traitors abused the power which the 
society possessed, to revenge themselves upon 
their enemies, or to satisfy their thirst for domi- 
nion and wealth. The union, Which might have 
become a blessing to mankind, threatened to, 
prove a scourge to every state where its influence 



PREFACE. DC 

prevailed ; the knave and the honest man were 
persecuted without discrimination, and Baron 
Knigge redoubled in vain his energy and zeal 
to purify the corrupted society, and to destroy 
the poison with which it was infected. His ex- 
ertions were fruitless ; his own associates became 
his most inveterate enemies, and he saw him- 
self compelled to renounce all connexion 
with his corrupted brethren, and to retire to his 
former seclusion from the world, after having 
learnt by experience, and at the cxpcnce of his 
tranquillity and health, that no society of men, 
how great soever their combined talents, and 
how well calculated their plans may be, can 
hope to accelerate the age of general illumina- 
tion and virtue contrary to the course of nature, 
which is slow, but progressive and sure ; and 
that it is more becoming a man who wishes to 
be happy himself and to promote the happiness 
of his brethren, to take the world as it is, to do 
whatever lays in his power to ameliorate our 
corrupted age gradually, without noise and with- 

2 



X PREFACE. 

out relying too much on the co-operation of 
others, and to counteract the bad effects of the 
spreading corruption by a prudent and wise 
conduct, than to convulse the natural order of 
things by forcing more light upon our cotem- 
poraries than their weak eyes can bear. Actu- 
ated by this dear-bought experience, he now 
confined himself entirely to the exertion of his 
literary talents, and dedicated the rest of his 
life to the laudable employment of circulating 
in his writings rules of prudence, the practice of 
which will enable us to avert many of those cala- 
mities and painful disappointments that are the 
natural consequences of our want of knowledge 
of the world, and of the prejudices, the igno- 
rance, passions, bodily and mental infirmities, 
vices and the vitiated taste of those with whom 
we live, and to prosecute our career with secu- 
rity and success. Of all the books which he 
wrote for that purpose, none was better received 
and more generally admired than his celebrated 
work " On Conversation with Men" (Uber 



PREFACE. XI 

clcn Umgang mit Menschen,) which contains a 
most valuable store of practical lessons of wis- 
dom, abounds with a profound knowledge of the 
world and the human heart, and is unanimously 
allowed to be the best essay on the real Philoso- 
phy of Social Life which ever has been published 
in any country. It went through five editions 
in the course of a few years, and, if I may pre- 
sume to judge of its usefulness from my own 
experience, stands foremost amongst all the 
books which ever have been written to promote 
social happiness. 

The advantages which I have derived from the 
study and application of the excellent observa- 
tions and rules which this work contains, and 
the salutary effects which I have seen it pro- 
duce in the life of those of my pupils to whom I 
recommended it, and who followed the sage in- 
structions with which it abounds, made me wish 
most ardently to see it dressed in an English 
garb, and circulated in a country which is so dear 
to me, and which of late has naturalized so many 



xii P fl E ? A p E. 

infenour children of the German Muse. But * 
as the original is entirely modified after the 
local wants, customs, and situation of Germany, 
and, besides, contains many chasms which I 
wished to fill up in an English edition, I was 
obliged almost entirely to new-mould it, in order 
to render it more congenial to the soil into which 
I intended transplanting it, to collect the addi- 
tions which it wanted with care and assiduity, 
to read all the tooks in which I expected to find 
materials that suited my .purpose, and to make 
such observations as would enable me to ascer- 
tain how the authour would have shaped his 
rules and instructions, if he had wrote for an 
English public a task which procrastinated the 
publication of these volumes more than three 
years. 

The most valuable additions which the suc- 
ceeding sheets contain, were gathered from the 
works of Bahrcl, Zollikoser, Reinhard, Zimmer- 
man (the celebrated authour of the publication 
On Solitude) and Fessler names which are 



r n E fr A c E. xiii 



highly respected on the German Parnassus. As 
for those that are the result of my own reflec- 
tions and observations, they are too few to add 
anything very material to the intrinsic merit of 
these volumes, or to injure the fame of their 
original authour. 

By giving this work the title of Practical 
Philosophy of Social Life, I by no means presume 
to offer it to the Public as a complete system of 
that branch of philosophy, but only wish that it 
may be regarded as a collection of fragments, 
from which some abler hand may hereafter com- 
pose a structure more deserving of the name. 

As it will J)e my highest ambition to render this 
adopted child of my Muse more complete and 
generally useful in a second edition, if it should 
have the good fortune to meet with a favourable 
reception, the Reviewers will do me the justice 
to believe, that I shall feel myself infinitely 
obliged to them for every candid remark and 
censure that can tend to open my eyes to its 
defects ; for the truth is, I do not presume to 



XIV PREFACE. 

flatter myself with the idea of having rendered 
the succeeding volumes as perfect as I could 
have wished, and therefore do not stand in need 
of gentle correction. 



MAY 1 8, 1799. P. WILL. 



INTRODUCTION. 



VV E frequently see that the most prudent 
and judicious people take steps in common life 
which astonish us ; we experience but too often, 
that men who have a more than common theo- 
retical knowledge of the human heart, become 
victims of the grossest imposition ; we have nu 
merous opportunities of observing that the most 
experienced and skilful people on common inci- 
dents apply the most contrary means, and strive 
in vain, to operate on others ; and notwith- 
standing their great superiority of genius, fre- 
quently depend upon the follies of others, and 
the whims and obstinacy of weaker minds ; that 
they must suffer themselves to be ruled and 
abused by persons who possess not half their 
abilities and deserve not to be compared with 
them ; whereas others, who are extremely poor 
jn spirit and 4estitute of all intrinsic merit, ac- 

VOL. I. I) 



XVI INTRODUCTION. 

complish things which the wise scarcely dare to 
wish performing. We see that many an honest 
man is almost entirely neglected, that the wit- 
tiest and brightest geniuses but too often act a 
pitiful part in societies where all eyes are di- 
rected at them, and all are watching with avi- 
dity every word they are about to utter ; we see 
them sit mute in a corner, or hear them utter 
only common and trivial things, while an 
inferior genius contrives to combine and dress 
up the small sum of notions he has accidentally 
picked up, with so much dexterity, as to create 
general interest, and to be thought even by sci- 
entific men, to possess no small share of know- 
ledge and judgment. We further see, that the 
most striking beauties are not generally ad- 
mired, while persons who are endowed only with 
a small share of personal charms excite general 
admiration. In short, we observe every day, 
that the most judicious and learned men, are, if 
not the unfittest for worldly business, at least so 
unfortunate as to be neglected, because they 
arc destitute of the art of showing themselves in 

3 favourable light, and that the most cultivated 

1 



INTRODUCTION. XV11 

minds who are gifted by nature with internal 
and personal perfections, frequently are least 
capable of appearing to advantage. 

Many people imagine themselves entitled, by 
supcriour accomplishments, to disregard trifling 
rules of social propriety and all conventional 
laws of decorum. But this is a very fatal infa- 
tuation. We are, indeed, willing to excuse 
great faults counterbalanced by great accom- 
plishments, because people of more refined feel- 
ings most commonly have more violent passions ; 
but in situations where the latter are not affected, 
the man of superior rank ought to act with 
more prudence than a person of the common 
stamp ; and no one wishing to live and act in 
society, can be excused for despising its inno- 
cent customs. 

By this observation however we do not mean 
to reflect blame upon those that voluntarily 
resign the admiration of the titled and untitled 
populace, to which a truly wise man is some- 
times compelled to have recourse. It is but 
natural that a man of superior talents should be 

reserved and silent in companies where he is 
b 2 



XVH1 INTRODUCTION. 

not understood ; that a man who possesses 
genuine wit and a refined judgment, should not 
demean himself to act the merry-maker in a 
circle of trifling and empty-headed coxcombs ; 
it is also natural, that a man who is graced with 
a certain dignity of character, should have too 
much noble pride to become an equal associate 
with every indifferent set of people who are of 
no importance to him, to fall in with the tone 
which conceited striplings have adopted on their 
travels, or that he should bend in obedient sub- 
mission to all the dictates of ever-changing 
fashion, which but too frequently receives its 
shape and form from dancers, actors, and tailors, 
or is modelled by folly and vice ; it is obvious, 
that it is more becoming a youth to be modest 
and unassuming than intruding, arrogant, and 
ranting, like most of our young men ; that the 
wiser a noble-minded man is, the more modest, 
diffident of his own knowledge, and the less 
intruding he will be ; that the more conscious a 
person is of intrinsic and real merit, the less art 
he will employ to exhibit his perfections, as a 
real beauty despises all those mean alluring 



INTRODUCTION. XIX 

artifices of coquetry by which some females 
strive to attract notice. But of all this we are 
not particularly speaking here. 

Neither do we allude to the folly of the of- 
fended pride of those that are actuated by im- 
moderate and arrogant pretensions, demand- 
ing to be constantly adulated, flattered and 
distinguished, and who act but a sorry part 
on being overlooked ; nor do we speak of the 
offended arrogance of an absurd pedant, who 
grows ill-humoured when he has the misfortune 
of not being known and caressed every where 
as a great luminary. We also do not animad- 
vert here upon the consequences of the conduct 
of the gross Cynic, who according to his Hotten- 
tot system, despises all rules prescribed in So- 
cial Life by general consent and mutual polite- 
ness ; or on the silliness of those eccentric pre- 
tenders, who presume to be privileged by the 
imaginary superiority of their genius, to disre- 
gard all the laws of custom, decorum and reason. 
And when we assert, that the wisest and most 
judicious people very frequently miss their aim 
in conversation, and in the prosecution of 



XK INTRODUCTION. 

respect, as well as in civil and other advantages ; 
we likewise cannot pay any regard to the heavy 
blows of misfortune which sometimes persecute 
the best of men ; nor to the effects of an un- 
happy, passionate or unsociable temper, which 
in many people eclipses the most excellent qua- 
lities. This observation rather alludes to those 
people who combine the best will and sincere 
probity with very prominent good qualities, and 
an indefatigable zeal to pass honourably and 
smoothly through the world, to establish their own 
prosperity and to promote that of their fellow- 
men, but notwithstanding are overlookedand fail 
in their diligent endeavours to effect so laudable 
a purpose. What is the cause of this pheno- 
menon ? Of what quality are they destitute 
which others possess, who, notwithstanding 
their being devoid of intrinsic worth, attain the 
highest degree of prosperity ? They are desti- 
tute of what the French call esprit de conduite, 
of the art of conversing with men : an art which 
the blockhead frequently catches sooner with- 
out studying it, than the judicious, wise, or 
witty; the art of rendering themselves noticed, 



INTRODUCTION. XXI 

distinguished and respected, without provoking 
envy ; to accommodate the mselves to the various 
tempers, opinions and passions of men, with- 
out being deceitful ; to be able to fall in unaf- 
fectedly with the tone of every company, with- 
out losing the originality of their character, or 
demeaning themselves to low flattery. The 
man whom nature has not gifted with this happy 
disposition, must acquire by the study of men 
a certain pliancy, sociability, moderation, for- 
bearance, self-denial, dominion over his passions, 
watchfulness over himself, and the serenity of an 
uniformly equal temper ; and he will obtain pos- 
session of that useful art which only with jus- 
tice can be called the Practical Philosophy of Social 
Life. We ought however not to confound it 
with that noxious and mean servility of a con- 
temptible slave, who suffers himself to be abused 
by every one, gives himself up to every knave 
to obtain a meal, humbles himself before every 
powerful wretch to procure some lucrative post, 
is silent when he ought to speak his mind freely, 
assists in the execution of roguery, and idolizes 
titled stupidity. In treating on that spirit of 



XX11 INTRODUCTION. 

conduct, which must guide us in our conver- 
sation with men of all classes, I do not how- 
ever mean to write a book on the art of compli- 
menting, but purpose laying before the reader 
some results of the experience I have had during 
a long intercourse with men of all ranks and 
situations. I do not promise to delineate a 
complete and regular system of Practical Philo- 
sophy of Social Life, but shall give only frag-* 
ments and materials which will serve as a basis 
for further investigation. It is extremely im- 
portant for various reasons, that a person wish- 
ing to associate with men and to live amongst 
them, should study the art of accommodating 
himself to their manners, customs, tone and 
disposition ; and of this art I am going to say 
something. But what calling can I have to 
write a book on the spirit of conduct /who 
in my life having so frequently displayed but 
very little of it ? Docs it become me to presume 
to dispense knowledge of men, while I myself 
having been so repeatedly a victim of such im- 
prudent indiscretion as scarcely could have been 
excusable in a novice ? Can it be expected, that 



INTRODUCTION. 

a man who lives almost entirely secluded from 
human society, could teach the art of conversing 
with men ? Let us see, my friends, what I can 
reply to this objection. 

If through dear-bought experience I have been 
rendered sensible of my own imprudentfe-* 
so much the better ! Who is more cojh- 
petent to warn against dangers than a man 
who has been involved himself in difficulties ? If 
temper and weakness, (or should I not rather 
call it sensibility of a feeling heart, which is al- 
ways ready to give itself up to others), if a 
strong desire for the blessings of love and friend- 
ship, for opportunities of serving others and of 
exciting sympathy, have frequently promoted 
me to act imprudently, and to disregard the voice 
of cool and reflecting reason ; my errors did 
not proceed from short-sightedness, simplicity 
and want of knowledge of men, but from an 
internal impulse to love and to render myself 
beloved, to be active and to do good. As for 
the rest, there are perhaps but few men, who 
in so short a period will be involved in such 
singular relations and connexions with people 



XXIV INTRODUCTION. 

of all descriptions as I have been within the 
last twenty years ; and should a man be similarly 
circumstanced, and not intirely neglected by 
nature and education, he must indeed meet 
with numerous opportunities in the space of so 
many years, that will enable him to make obser- 
vations and to warn against those dangers he 
could not escape himself. My living at present 
retired and secluded from the world, is neither 
owing to misanthropy nor to a silly singularity. 
I have very important motives for it ; but to 
deliver them here at large would be speaking 
too much of myself, especially as I shall be ob- 
liged, at least, to give some account of my own 
experience in this Introduction. Therefore I 
beg leave to say thus much : I was very young 
when I first stepped upon the theatre of the 
great world and the court. My temper was 
lively, restless and easy to be affected, and my 
blood warm ; the seeds of many violent passions 
lay concealed within me ; I had been somewhat 
spoiled in my first education, and had too great 
attention paid my little person, which induced 
me to demand too much consideration from 



INTRODUCTION. XXV 

those around me. Grown up in a country 
where flattery, dissimulation and cringing are 
not much encouraged, I was indeed but little 
prepared for that pliancy I wanted to ensure 
success among utter strangers and in despotic 
states. The instruction of young minds in true 
policy is frequently very unsuccessful, and not 
rarely attended with considerable dangers ; our 
own experience in fact is the best instructor. 
These lessons produce the most salutary effect 
(if we pay not too dear for them) and make the 
deepest impression. My liveliness caused me 
to commit many inconsistent actions ; I was 
precipitate in every thing, always doing either 
too much or too little, ever being too late or 
too soon ; because invariably, I was about to 
commit a folly, or had to retrieve one. I gene- 
rally missed my aim from omitting to act upon 
a simple plan. When I first appeared at court, 
I was too careless, too open and unsuspicious, 
which did me a great deal of injury. I resolved 
however to become a complete courtier ; my 
conduct grew artificial, and I lost the confi- 
dence of good men ; I was too pliant, and this de- 



XXVI INTRODUCTION. 

privedme of external regard, internal dignity and 
self- consistency. Being dissatisfied with myself 
and others, I grew reserved and singular. This 
created astonishment ; my society was courted, 
and my sociability revived again. I renewed 
my former connexions, discarded my singular^ 
ties, and thec harm which my seclusion from the 
world had created and which had attracted the 
attention of others, disappeared at once. At an- 
other period I lashed the follies of the times with 
some degree of wit ; I was now dreaded, but 
not beloved ; this grieved me; and being de- 
sirous to repair this loss, I proved myself a harm- 
less being, displayed kind and benevolent senti- 
ments, and shewed that I was incapable of hurt- 
ing and persecuting others But what was the 
consequence? Everyone of those I had offended 
by my former conduct, or who imagined them- 
selves the object of my sarcasms, abused me on 
seeing me defend myself only with blunted wea- 
pons which could do no harm. At other times, 
when my satirical humour was encouraged by the 
applause of jovial companions, I lashed great and 
liule fools without mercy ; the wits laughed ; 



INTRODUCTION. XXVH 

but those that were wiser shook their heads and 
treated me with coldness. Being desirous of 
showing that my humour was not tinctured with 
malice, I ceased ridiculing others, and palliated 
every folly. This however made me appear to 
some a simpleton, while others suspected me of 
hypocrisy. When I selected my companions 
from among the most excellent and enlightened 
men, I applied in vain for the protection of a 
blockhead who was at the helm of government; 
and when I associated with people of inferior 
talents, I was treated as belonging to the same 
class with them. People destitute of education 
and of low rank abused me, when I treated them 
with more than usual kindness; and of thloe of 
higher rank I made enemies when they offend- 
ed my vanity. I now made the blockhead too 
sensible of my superiority, and was persecuted; 
I was too modest, and experienced neglect ; I 
accommodated myself to all the peculiarities of 
my connexions, and fell in with the tone of those 
indifferent societies I frequented and thereby 
lost my precious time, the regard of wise and 
good men, and particularly self-satisfaction; at 



XXVlil INTRODUCTION. 

other times I was too artless, and from want of 
self-confidence acted a pitiful part when I ought 
and could have shewn myself to advantage. At 
one period I too rarely went abroad, and was sus- 
pected of pride or puerile fear of men; at another I 
shewed myself every where, and was accused of 
being intruding. While I was a young man, I 
abandoned myself imprudently and exclusively 
to every one that called himself my friend and 
shewed me affection, and was often dreadfully 
deceived and disappointed in my sweetest ex- 
pectations ; afterwards I became the friend of 
every one, and ready to serve any person who 
wanted my assistance, in consequence no one 
attached himself to me, because none of my con- 
nexions valued a heart accessible to any that 
sought friendship. When I expected too much 
I was deceived ; and when I gave up all confi- 
dence in the faith and probity of men, I could 
enjoy no social pleasure or be interested by any 
object. The public are not ignorant, that I 
was active in the association of the Illuminati, 
as they were called. This union which was di- 
rected by peoplewho on account of their 



INTRODUCTION. XXIX 

rank, birth, civil relations and talents, were 
classed with the most important men in Ger- 
many made the knowledge of the human heart 
a particular object of their study. The person 
who managed almost the whole affairs of that 
extensive society (which was my case for a con- 
siderable time), had, indeed, opportunities of 
becoming acquainted with people of all ranks, of 
very different culture and disposition, and to 
observe .them in various situations; however as 
the intercourse with most of them was carried on 
by way of letters only, my practical experience 
gained in the whole but little by it. The trea- 
sure I gathered at those courts where I spent a 
great part of my life, was by far more consider- 
able. But I must confess, that, although I 
made many observations at these theatres of 
folly and deceit, yet I improved but little in the 
art of rendering them advantageous to myself, 
as I never could bridle my lively temper so much 
as to be capable of concealing my blind side 
so carefully as I ought to have done. And thus 
did the years elapse in which I could have made 
my fortune, as it is commonly termed. Now, 



XXX INTRODUCTION. 

since I have acquired a more perfect knowledge 
of men, and my eyes have been opened by experi- 
ence, which has rendered me more circumspect 
and capable of operating on the human heart, it 
is too late to put that knowledge in practice. The 
' few advantages I could obtain by it for the rest 
of my life, are not worth the trouble and exer- 
tion which it would cost me ; and it is as little 
becoming a man, whose principles have been 
fixed by age and experience, to begin at so late 
a period to grow pliant, as it would be pardon- 
able in him to turn fop. It is now indeed, too 
late to begin with the practice of my experi- 
ence ; however it is not yet too late to point out 
to young men the path they ought to pursue; 
therefore let us see what I can do, and come 
nearer to the point. 



CONTENTS OF VOLUME THE FIRST. 



CHAPTER I. PAGE i. 

General Rules and Observations to guide us in our Conver- 
sation with Men. 
SECTION 



i VERY man must render himself respected in 
the world. Application of this Maxim. 
II. Strive to render yourself perfect ; but avoid the 
appearance of perfection and infallibility. 

III. Be not too much ihe slave of the opinion which 

others form of you. 

IV. Have confidence in GOD, in yourself, good men 

and fortune. 
V. Put not to your own account what you owe to the 

merits of others. 
VI. Conceal your cares when you are not certain of 

finding relief by disclosing them. 
VII. Speak not too loudly of your prosperity. 
VIII. Disclose not the defects of your neighbour. 
IX. Afford others an opportunity of appearing to advan- 
tage- 

X. Strive to preserve presence of mind. 
XI. Ifyou-wish for temporal advantages you must so. 

licit for them. 
VOL. I. C 



XXX11 CONTENTS. 

SECTION 

XII. Request and accept of others as few services as 
possible. 

XIII. Limits of complaisance. 

XIV. Keep your word rigidly on every occasion. 

XV. Be strict, punctual, regular, assiduous, and dili- 
gent in your calling. 
XVI. Interest yourself for others if you wish them to 

interest themselves for you. 

XVII. Implicate no one in your private differences, and 
frequently in imagination put yourself in the 
place of others. 
XVIII. Let every one be responsible for his own actions 

while they have no relation to yourself. 
XIX. Be always consistent and act up to your principles. 
XX. Strive to have always a good conscience. 
XXI. Be firm in your conduct. 

XXII. Make a proper distinction in your external 
conduct between men and men, 

XXIII. Be not too communicative. 

XXIV. Never attempt to render others ridiculous. 
XXV. Terrify and teaze no person. 

XXVI. All people want to be amused. On joking. 
XXVII. Quit the society of no person without having 

told him something obliging or instructive. 
XXVIII. On aspersion, ridicule, and backbiting. 
XXIX. Be careful how you relate anecdotes. 

XXX. Avoid talebearing. 

XXXI. Be cautious how you censure and contradict others. 
XXXII. Take heed not to tire the patience of your 

hearers by tedious and prolix discourses. 
XXXIII. Speak not in company of subjects which in- 
terest no ore but yourself. 



CONTENTS. XXX111 

SlCTION 

XXXIV. On egotism. 

XXXV. Do not contradict yourself in conversation. 
XXXVI. Avoid tiresome repetitions and sharpen your 

memory. 

XXXVII. Do not season your discourses with duplicities. 
XXXVIII. Intermix not your discourses with common. 

place expressions. 
XXXIX. Do not teaze others with useless questions. 

XL. Learn to brook contradiction. 
XLI. Talk not of your domestic concerns nor of 

vexatious subjects in places of amusement. 
XLII. On religious discourses. 
XL1II. Be cautious how you speak of the defects of 

others. 

XLIV. Other rules of prudence. 
XLV. Remind no one of disagreeable matters without 

necessity. 

XLVI. Take no share in the ridicule of scoffers. 
XL VII. On the spirit of disputing. Vide Vol. II. 
XLV II I. Be secret. 

XLIX. On speaking well, and propriety of external 

conduct. 
L. On various social improprieties and incon. 

gruities. 

LI. How we must behave when others tire us by 
the tediousness and prolixity of their conver- 
sation. 

LI I. On ease in conversation. 
LI II. Take not too great pretensions with you into 

social circles. 
LIV. On dress. 

LV, Is it better to go often or seldom into company ? 
C 2 



XXXIV CONTENTS. 

SECTION 

LVI. We can learn something useful in any company. 

LVII. With whom are we to converse most frequently ? 

LVIII. On conversation in cities, country towns and 

villages. 
LIX. On conversation in foreign countries. 

LX. On epistolary correspondence. 
LXI. How we must judge of men. 
LXII. Whether the above and the subsequent rules be 

generally applicable ? 
LXIII. Can ladies act after these rules ? 






CHAPTER II, PAGE 74. 

On Conversation with ourselves. 
SECTION 

I. NEGLECT not conversation with your own self. 
II. There will be moments when the conversation with 

our own self will be our only comfort. 
III. Display towards your own person as much prudence, 
honesty, propriety and justice as you ought to show 
in the society of others. 
JV. Take care of the health of your soul as well as of that 

of your body.* 
V. Have regard for your own person and confidence in 

yourself. 
VI. Despair not at the consciousness of your defects and 

imperfections. 

VII. Be an agreeable companion to yourself. 
VIII. Avoid all sort of self- flattery, and show yourself your 

own best and sincerest friend. 
IXt How we are to estimate our own morality, 
i 



CONTENTS. XXXV 



CHAPTER III. PAGE 81. 

On Conversation with people of different Tempers and 
Dispositions. 

SECTION 

I. ON the four Cardinal tempers and their mixture. 
II. On people of an imperious disposition. 

III. On ambitious people. 

IV. On vain people. 
V. On arrogance. 

VI. On irritable people. 
VII. On conversation with obstinate people. 
VI II. On conversation with petu!ant people and such as 

are fond of contradiction and paradoxes. 
IX. On conversation with irascible people. 

X. On coru'ccsation with revengeful people. 
XI. On conversation with lazy and phlegmatic people. 
XII. On conversation with mistrustful, suspicious, morose, 
and close people. 

XIII. On conversation with envious and jealous people. 

XIV. Rules for counteracting the effects of slander and 

calumny. 
XV. On conversation with scoffers. 

XVI. On conversation with avaricious people and spend. 

thrifts. 

XVII. On conversation with ungrateful people. 
XVIII. Against artifice, cunning and insidiousness. 

XIX. On conversation with boasters, braggers and puffers. 
XX. On conversation with impudent, idle and intriguing 

people, parasites and flatterers. 
XXI. On conversation with villains. 



XXXVI CONTENTS. 

SECTION 

XXII. On conversation with too modest and timid 
people. 

XXIII. On conversation with imprudent, talkative, cu- 

rious, heedless and forgetful people. 

XXIV. On conversation with whimsical people. 
XXV. On conversation with stupid, good-natured and 

weak people. 
XXVI. On conversation with cheerful, lively and saty- 

rical people. 
XXVII. On conversation with drunkards, voluptuaries 

and votaries of other vices. 
XXVIII. On conversation with enthusiasts, romantic and 

eccentrical people. 
XXIX. On conversation with devotees, puritans and 

hypocrites. 

XXX. On conversation with superstitious people. 
XXXI. On conversation with deists, freethinkers and 

scoffers at religion. 

XXXII. On conversation with melancholy people, lunatics 
and madmen. 



CHAPTER IV. PAGE 159. 

On Conversation vlith People of a different Age. 

SECTION 

I. THE conversation with people who are of the same 

age with us has many advantages and charms. 
II. Old people ought not to disturb the innocent sport* 

and amusements of younger persons. 

III. Old people render themselves ridiculous by affecting 
to appear being young. 

7 



CONTENTS. XXXVU 

SECTION 
IV. Old people ought to render their society useful to the 

young. 

V. It is out of fashion now-a-days to honour old age ; our 
present generation imagine to be much wiser than 
our forefathers were. 

VI. Rules for youth in their conversation with old people. 
VII. On conversation with children. 



CHAPTER V. PAGE 170. 

On Conversation between Parents, Children, and Re- 
lations- 
SECTION 

I. Is attachment to our families and country a prejudice? 

On cosmopolitism. 
II. On the conduct of parents towards their children. 

III. On the conduct of children towards their parents. 

IV. On conversation between relations. A few words on 

old uncles and aunts. 



CHAPTER VI. PAGE 181. 

On Conjugal Conversation. 
SECTION 

I. A WISE and good choice on concluding the marriage- 
bonds is the safest mean of rendering conjugal life 
happy. The contrary produces the most deplor- 
able consequences. 

II. Why are marriages concluded in younger years with 
little or no prudence sometimes happy ? 



XXXV11I CONTENTS. 

SECTION 

III. Is a perfect harmony of temper, disposition! and 

thinking, of capacities and taste necessarily re- 
quired to constitute matrimonial happiness ? 

IV. Rules for preventing conjugal society from becom- 

ing troublesome and tedious. 

V. Principal rule : Fulfil carefully all your duties ! 
VI. How must we act when the accomplishments of 
amiable strangers make lively impressions upon 
our consorts ? 

VII. How can we guard ourselves against such impres- 
sions in younger and maturer years ? 
VIII. Married people are unjust in desiring to monopolize 

all the feelings of their partner. 

IX. Conjugal happiness requires we should not demand 

of our consorts a total sacrifice of their taste, and 

strive to accommodate ourselves to their innocent 

propensities. 

X. How are we to guard against an actual breach of 

conjugal fidelity ? 
XI. Two means of recalling a disloyal partner to her 

duty. 

Xil. How are we to proceed if our consort be guilty of 
adultery ? 

XIII. Treatment of a fallen consort. 

XIV. On divorce. 

XV. An unlimited confidence ought to subsist among 

married people. 
XVI. It is not advisable that married people should trans. 

act all their business in common. 
XVII. A proper sum ought to be allowed to the wife for 

the purposes of housekeeping. 
XVIII. Domestic ceconomy promotes conjugal happiness. 



CONTENTS. XXXJ 

SlCTIOM 

XIX. It is better that the husband than the wife be 

rich. 

XX. Is it necessary that the husband should possess a 
larger share of prudence and judgment than the 
wife ? 
XXI. Is it prudent to complain to our consorts of our mis* 

fortunes ? 

XXII. Rules of prudence in case of too great a difference 
of disposition. 

XXIII. Ho.v are we to act if we be united for life with an 

immoral or vicious person ? 

XXIV. Caution against officious go-betweens. 

XXV. Are these rules applicable to fashionable and very 
rich people ? 



CHAPTER VII. PAGE 232. 

Rules for Loven and thne that convene with them. 

SECTION 

I. A FEW general observations on the proper treatment 

of lovers. 

II. Why no rules can be given to lovers for regulating 
their mutual conduct. 

III. Happy effects of the first love of virtuous minds. 

IV. Jealousy and trifling dissensions strengthen the ties of 

innocent love. 
V. Arc the fair sex as faithful and firm in their love as 

men ? 

VI. Secrecy is one of the chief means of being successful 
in love. 



x CONTEXTS. 

SECTION 

VII. Caution against thoughtless promises of marriage. 
VJII. Be generous if the bonds uniting your heart to that 
of a virtuous woman should be dissolved. 



CHAPTER VIII. PAGE 244. 

On Conversation with the Fair Sex* 

SECTION 

I. THE Authour's apology for his being obliged to ani- 
madvert upon some general defects of the female 
sex. 

II. Conversation with accomplished and virtuous women 
gives the last polish to the education of a young 
man. 

III. Why are personal and mental accomplishments not 

always the only certain means of rendering our. 
selves agreeable to the fair sex ? 

IV. Why are the ladies averse from men labouring under 

infirmities ? 
V. The ladies ought not to be blamed for being interested 

sometimes for libertines. 

VI. Cleanliness and elegance of dress recommended. 
VIIj Paying homage in a similar manner to several ladies 

at one time and in the same place, is dangerous. 
VIII, Praising the accomplishments of other ladies in the 
presence of one who pretends to the same is im- 
prudent. 

IX. Strive to be an entertaining companion if you wish to 
please the ladies. Flattery is particularly grateful 
to them. 
X. Curiosity is a prominent feature of the female character. 



CONTENTS. Xll 

SECTION 

XI. Accommodate yourself to the humours of the fair 

sex, but be not intruding. 

XII. The female sex sometimes find pleasure in teazing 
the objects of their affection. 

XIII. Yield to them the triumph of the moment. 

XIV. Provoke not the resentment of an ill-tempered 

woman. 

XV. Is it possible to avoid falling in love ? 
XVI. Seducing or deluding innocent and inexperienced 

girls by false hopes is an infamous practice. 
XVII. On conversation with coquets and seducing females* 
XVIII. Learned ladies. 

XIX. On female dissimulation. 

XX. Antiquated coquets, prudes, devotees and gossips. 
XXI. A few more general observations on the advantages 
resulting from the conversation of good and 
accomplished women. 



1- f, 



PHACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 
OF SOCIAL LIFE. 






CHAPTER I. 

General Rules and Observations to guide us in our 
Conversation -with Men. 

! i;:f i y :>*! i 



SECTION I. 

pretensions are generally the standard by 
which the world judges of our abilities and merits. 
A golden rule ! A theme sufficient for a folio 
volume on the spirit of conduct and the means 
of gaining our point in the world ; a maxim, 
the truth of which is confirmed by the expe- 
rience of all ages. This experience teaches 
the adventurer and boaster to persuade the mul- 
titude that he is a man of consequence ; to 
speak of his connexions with princes and minis- 
ters of state, who frequently even do not know 
that he exists, in terms that procure him, if 
not more, at least, many a meal and access to 
families of rank and fortune. I knew a man 
who spoke in this maoncr in all companies of 
VOL. i. B 



2 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

his intimacy with the Emperor Joseph II. and 
Prince Kaunitz, although I am certain that 
these great men scarcely knew his name, and 
had heard nothing of him, except that he was 
a turbulent man and a libeller. As no one 
inquired into the truth of his pretensions, it 
enabled him to gain for a short time so much 
credit with many people as to induce them to 
apply for his interference with the Emperor, 
whenever they had occasion to petition-for some- 
thing. In such cases he used to write to some 
great man or other at Vienna, and boasted of 
the number of his noble 'friends in such terms 
as to obtain frequently a civil and kind answer, 
which he turned to further advantage. 

This experience emboldens many a man of 
a merely superficial knowledge to decide posi- 
tively in matters of which he, an hour before, 
scarcely knew any thing ; and to give his 
opinion in terms which deter the modest lite- 
rati from contradicting and putting questions 
to him that would expose his ignorance. This 
experience encourages the presumptuous block- 
head to intrude himself into the highest digni- 
ties, to intimidate humble merit, and to deter 
every one from attempting to reduce him to. his 
proper station. 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 3 

This experience teaches the most useless and 
perverted geniuses, men without any talents 
and real knowledge, boasters and adventurers, 
to render themselves necessary to the great. It 
is generally the only means by which the learned, 
the musician and painter acquire fame. 

Emboldened by this experience, the foreign 
artist frequently charges hundreds for a piece 
which a native would execute ten times better 
for half the sum. The works of the foreign 
artist are, however, the rage; he cannot satisfy 
all the demands of his numerous customers, and 
at last, employs natives to work for him, and 
sells the produce of inland industry at a high 
price by stamping them with his name. 

Animated by this experience the author con- 
trives to obtain a favourable criticism on his 
work, pretending in the preface to his tiresome 
composition with barefaced impudence, to have 
been pressed by connoisseurs and men of eru- 
dition, of whose approbation and friendship he 
boasts, to publish his book for the benefit of the 
world. 

This experience encourages the titled spend- 
thrift who is on the verge of bankruptcy, 
and wants to borrow money which he does not 
intend ever to repay, to demand it in terms and 

B 2 



4 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

in a manner which lead the rich usurer to think 
it an honour to be cheated by him. 

Almost all sorts of application for protection 
or preferment, made in that tone, meet with 
success, and are but rarely refused ; whereas 
scorn, neglect and disappointment generally 
are the reward of the humble and timid client. 

This experience teaches the servant to obtain 
authority with his master ; and persons who 
receive kindness, to render themselves so im- 
portant to their benefactors as to lead them to 
think themselves very fortunate for being able to 
serve such men. In short, the maxim that our 
pretensions generally are the ftandard by which the 
world judges of our abilities and merits is the 
great panacea, the philosopher's stone of all 
adventurers, boasters, impostors, quacks, and 
shallow-brained geniuses, which enables them 
to make their fortune. I would therefore not 
give a pin for that specific. But, stop ! Should 
that maxim really be of no use at all to an 
honest man ? Yes, my friends, we may turn 
it to some advantage. It teaches us never to 
reveal our (Economical, physical, moral and in- 
tellectual weakness, unless we are pressed by our 
calling or the most urgent necessity. Al- 
though we ought on no account to have recourse 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 5 

to impudent lies, yet we must neglect no oppor- 
tunity to shew ourselves as much to advantage 
as truth and probity will permit. We must, 
however, not do this in too gross, visible, strik- 
ing and vain a manner, lest we should lose 
thereby more than we can gain. We rather ought 
to lead others, imperceptibly, to think that we 
possess more abilities and merits than appear at 
first sight. If we hangout too showy a sign, we 
excite too much attention, and invite others to 
explore those defects from which no son of Eve 
is exempted, and thus our fame may receive a 
mortal blow at once. Appear therefore with a 
certain modest consciousness of your innate 
dignity, and above all things let your coun- 
tenance bespeak your internal sense of veracity 
and rectitude. Display sound reason and know- 
ledge whenever an opportunity offers ; but be 
careful not to betray as much as might provoke 
envy, or render you suspected of too high pre- 
tensions, nor as little as might induce others to 
overlook or to contradict you with impudence. 
Be reserved ; but take care to avoid the appear- 
ance of singularity, timidity and pride. 

IT. STRIVE to render yourself perfect; but 
avoid the appearance of perfection and infallibi- 
lity. The world judges of you by your prcten 



(> PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

sions; and you have even to congratulate your- 
self if it imputes none to you which you never 
had ; otherwise the least fault which you com- 
mit will induce people to exclaim : " Ah, it is 
unpardonable in such a man !" and as people of 
a weak understanding generally rejoice at the 
discovery of a defect in a man who outshines 
them, they will censure you with more acri- 
mony for a single slip than they would another 
for a whole train of follies and roguery. 

III. BE however not too much the slave of 
the opinion which others form of you. Be self- 
consistent ! What need have you to care for 
the censure of the world if you act as you ought 
to do ? Your whole wardrobe of external virtues 
is not worth a pin, if you conceal a weak and 
mean heart under that tinsel dress, and put it 
on only to make a show with it in companies. 

IV. ABOVE all things take care not to lose 
your confidence in yourself, your trust in GOD, 
in good men and fortune. You will be forsaken 
by all your friends as soon as your countenance 
bespeaks dissatisfaction and despair. I must 
however observe, that the unfortunate frequently 
is unjust to men, and but too apt to misinter- 
pret every ill-humour, every little mark of cold- 
ness in others, because he imagines tfcat every 



0F SOCIAL LIFE. ? 

one sees that he suffers and wishes to avoid the 
application which he might make for his assist- 
ance. 

$ V. PUT not to your own account what you 
owe to the merits of others. If you receive 
civilities or are distinguished in company, be- 
cause you are connected with some great and 
respectable man, be not proud of it; but be 
modest enough to feel that, perhaps, you would 
be treated differently if it were not for him, 
and strive to be honoured for your own sake. 
It is by far more preferable to shine in a dark 
corner with our own light than as a great moon 
of a foreign sun, or as a satellite of a planet. 

VI. DISCLOSE your sorrows and disasters 
/ if you are unfortunate or in want, and if rea- 
son, principles and your own exertions arc in- 
sufficient to dispel your cares, to no person, 
not even to the wife of your bosom, unless you 
are certain to find relief. Few only are able and 
willing to ease our burden ; the greater part 
make it only heavier; nay, many will fhun 
you if they see that Fortune frowns at you; and 
all will desert you if they perceive that you are 
entirely destitute of resources, that you are 
deprived of all support, and have not one pro- 
tector left! For who has the courage to take 



8 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

singly and firmly the part of a man who is 
deserted by all the world ? Who has the spirit 
to say : (< I know the man, he is my friend, and 
worth more than all the wretches that censure 
and asperse him." And if you fortunately 
should meet with such a friend in time of need, 
he will, perhaps, be a sufferer himself, an un- 
fortunate being that is urged by despair to 
unite his fate with yours, and whose protection 
will do you more harm than good. 

VII. BUT speak also not too loudly of your 
prosperity, nor display too much splendour, 
wealth and genius. There are but few who will 
behold such a superiority without murmuring 
and envy. I would advise you, for the same 
reason, not to be too kind to others ; because 
men are generally but too prone to shun an 
over-generous benefactor, as we are used to flee 
from a creditor whom we never can pay. 
Be therefore careful not to appear too great in 
the eyes of your brethren ; for, besides, they 
will demand too much of you, and a single 
refusal will make them forget in a moment thou- 
sands of benefactions which they have received 
from you. 

VIII. DISCLOSE never in an ungenerous 
manner the defects of your neighbour, in order 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 9 

to sound your own praise at his expcnce ; nor 
expose the failings of others to shine with 
additional lustre. 

IX. BE less eager to shine in companies 
than to afford others an opportunity of appear- 
ing to advantage, if you wish to please and to 
be applauded. But few people can bear to see 
others display their superiority. They will 
rather forgive us an ambiguous action, nay even 
a crime, than a deed through which we eclipse 
them. But when you arc at some distance from 
them, and do not square their compass of activity, 
they will, perhaps, do you justice. I have fre- 
quently obtained the reputation of being a 
witty and sensible man in companies in which I 
had not uttered a single reasonable sentence, 
and in which I had done nothing else but -to 
listen with an exemplary patience to fashionable 
and- half-learned nonsense, or to introduce a 
subject of which one of the society was desirous 
to speak. Many people do me the unmerited 
honour to introduce themselves to me with the 
humble assurance, (at which I sometimes can 
not help smiling,) that they come to pay me 
their respect as a celebrated author ; they sit 
down, begin to talk, giving me scarcely room 
to speak a word, though they came to admire 



1O PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

me, and leave me delighted with my instructive 
and agreeable conversation and charmed with 
me in the highest degree, because I had under- 
standing enough to listen to them. 

Have patience with all weaknesses of that 
kind ; and if, for instance, a person should in- 
troduce a story or an agreeable anecdote which 
he likes to relate, let him not perceive in a'n 
unpleasant manner that the subject is tiresome 
to you, because you have heard it repeated fre- 
quently, or communicated it to him yourself. 
What can be more innocent than to promote 
effusions of that sort if we can obtain by it 
a good name, and afford pleasure to others ? 

If people have an innocent hobby-horse, and, 
for instance, are fond of talking of their hounds, 
horses, paintings, &c. &c. or are pleased when 
we drink a glass of wine with them., then let us 
indulge them in these harmless fancies if we 
can do it without inconvenience and deceit. I 
have never been able to reconcile myself to the 
custom of those courtiers that are used to listen 
to every one with an affected attention, nay 
even to interrupt us in the middle of a sentence 
which they have occasioned themselves. 

^ X. PRESENCE of mind is a rare gift of 
Heaven, and enables us to appear very much to 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 11 

advantage in Social Life. This valuable jo,\vel 
can however not be acquired by art : yet if we 
are in want of it, we may at least do something 
to repair that defect by being constantly on our 
guard, and taking care not to be loo precipitate 
in conversation, nor to utter any thing tiiat 
might perplex ourselves or others. Very lively 
dispositions ought to be particularly careful to 
observe this rule. I would advise those that are 
not girted with much presence of mind, if an 
unexpected question should be put to them or 
an uncommon object or incident surprise them, 
to be silent for a few moments, and to give their 
consideration room for preparing them for the 
party which they ought to take. As a single, 
rash and imprudent word or a step taken in the 
hurry of perplexity, may be attended with fruit- 
less regret and dangerous consequences, a bold 
resolution, taken and executed on the spot, may 
also, in critical moments, in which we frequently 
are thrown off our guard, be productive of safety, 
happiness and consolation. 

XI. IF you wish for temporal advantages, 
for support and employment in civil life; if you 
desire to obtain some post in which you can be 
useful to your country you must solicit, nay 
even frequently beg for it. I)o not expect that 



12 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

men will assist you of their own accord if you 
are not absolutely necessary to them, or interest 
themselves in your behalf without being soli- 
cited, although your deeds should speak loudly 
for you, and your want of assistance be gene- 
rally known. Every one takes care of himself 
and his family without troubling himself about 
the modest man, who is too timid to appeal to 
his talents, and may starve in an obscure corner 
notwithstanding his superior talents and merits. 
For this reason many a worthy man remains in 
obscurity all his life, and has no opportunity to 
be useful to his fellow-citizens because he can 
neither beg nor cringe. 

^ XII. BUT let us request and accept of others 
as few services as possible. We meet very rarely 
with people who are disinterested enough not to 
demand, sooner or later, great returns for small 
services ; and this destroys the freedom of con- 
versation, deprives us of the liberty of action, 
and limits our choice. Although this should 
in ten instances distress us scarcely once, yet 
it will be prudent to avoid that one possible 
instance, and rather to give as often as we can 
and to serve every one than to accept services 
or any thing else from others. There are also 
few people that will serve you with a good grace. 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 13 

You will be convinced of it if you will make a 
trial. Many of your acquaintances will assumo 
at once a grave and solemn air, in the highest 
glee of good humour, if you address them with 
these or similar words : " I have a great favour 
to beg of you ; I am sadly distressed." Men 
are however very ready to ofler us services of 
which we are not in want, or even which they 
arc not capable to afford us. The spendthrift is 
always ready to serve others with money, and 
the blockhead with advice. 

Above all things be careful not to request any 
favour of a person if you are convinced that he 
cannot well give you a refusal, how unwilling 
soever he should be to oblige you ; for instance, 
when he is under obligations to you, or depends 
upon you in any other manner. 

To receive benefactions makes us dependent 
on others, and we cannot know what the con- 
sequences of it may be. It reduces us fre- 
quently to the necessity either of shewing too 
much indulgence to bad men, or renders us 
suspected of being ungrateful. 

If you wish to render yourself independent 
on the assistance of others you need but to 
have few wants, to be sober, regular and mode- 
rate in your wishes ; if, on the contrary, your 



14 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

heart is a wrestling-place of numerous wild 
passions, if your mind is constantly agitated 
either by ambition or thirst after gain, or per- 
turbged by voluptuous desires ; if you are 
infected by the extravagance and luxury of our 
age, and wish for every thing that dazzles your 
eyes ; if restless curiosity and a turbulent spirit 
impel you incessantly to interfere with the con- 
cerns of others, you will always be in want of 
the assistance of your friends and acquaintances 
in order to obtain the gratification of your num- 
berless wishes. 

XIII. WHEN I recommend to my readers 
rather to oblige every one than to accept of the 
assistance of others, this does not contradict the 
assertion that prudence requires we should not 
do too much for others. I would advise you in 
general to be obliging, but not to obtrude your 
services upon others, nor to be the friend and 
confident of every one. Above all things do not 
censure,* correct, or advise others, if you have 
no urgent calling to do it. Few only will thank 
you for it, and many have already decided how 
to act when they apply for our advice. Do 
not trouble your friends and acquaintances with 
trifling commissions if you possibly can avoid 
it ; for instance, to buy something for you, te 
3 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 19 

deliver a message, &c. &c. I would also recom- 
mend to you to decline every charge of that 
sort ; for the execution of such commissions is 
generally attended with loss of time, and you 
will rarely be able to execute them to the satis- 
faction of your friends. They are generally 
attended with loss of time and money, and 
rarely gratefully acknowledged. Be also careful 
not to interfere in domestic disputes: and above 
all things be cautious how you reconcile ene- 
mies and settle differences, if the dissenting 
parties are not particularly dear to you, because 
both parties generally shake hands unexpectedly 
to attack the peace-maker jointly. Match- 
making leave to Heaven and a certain class of 
old women. 

$ XIV. No rule is more generally useful, 
none ought to be observed more sacredlv, and 
tends more to procure us respect and friends 
than that which teaches us to keep our word 
rigidly even in the most trifling instances, 
to be faithful to all our promises, and never to 
wander from the strait road of truth and veracity. 
You are intitled in no instance and by no motive 
whatever to say the contrary of what you think, 
although it would frequently be highly wrong 
and imprudent to disclose every thought of your 



f6 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

heart. No necessity, how imperious soever it 
be, can excuse an untruth ; no breach of vera- 
city has ever been committed without having 
produced, sooner or later, painful consequences; 
whereas the man who is known to be a slave to 
his word, and never to indulge himself with the 
commission of an untruth, gains confidence, a 
good name and general regard. 

XV. BE strict, punctual, regular, assiduous 
and diligent in your calling. Keep your papers, 
keys and every thing in such an order as to 
be able to find every individual article in the 
dark. Bestow a still more rigid care upon the 
property of others which is entrusted to you. 
Never lend books to others which you have bor- 
rowed. If any be lent to you, send or carry 
them back in proper time, and do not give your 
friends or servants the trouble to fetch them. 
Every one is glad to be connected and to trans- 
act business with a person upon whose punctu- 
ality in words and deeds we can rely. Appear 
punctually at the place to which you have 
promised to come, though you should be 
the only one that is so regular ; good and bad 
examples of that sort are generally imitated, 
and the irregularity of others is no excuse for 
ours. 1 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 17 

^ XVI. INTEREST yourself for others if you 
wish them to interest themselves for you. A 
person that is destitute of fellow-feeling, of a 
sense for friendship, benevolenee and love, and 
lives merely for himself, will also be left to shift 
for himself when he wants the assistance of 
others. 

XVII. IMPLICATE no one in your private 
differences, and demand not of those with 
whom you are connected to take a part in the 
animosities which exist between yourself and 
others. 

A great number of such rules are compre- 
hended in the old maxim : " Put yourself in 
your imagination frequently in the place of 
others, and ask yourself How should you be 
pleased in such a situation if this were de- 
manded of you if you were treated in such a 
manner if you were desired to take so much 
pains to afford such an assistance or to give 
such an explanation r" 

XVIII. Do not trouble yourself about the 
actions of others while they have no relation to 
yourself, or so much influence on morality as 
would render it criminal to be silent. What is 
it to you whether a person walks slow or quick, 
sleeps little or much, is often or seldom at home, 
VOL. i. C 



18 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

wears a simple or a sumptuous dress, drinks 
wine or beer, contracts debts or hoards up 
money, keeps a mistress or no ? But facts which 
we must know we learn frequently best of stu- 
pid people, because they relate them without 
witty exaggerations and additions, without pas- 
sion and artful misrepresentation. 

XIX. Do never desert your principles while 
you are convinced that they are just. To make 
exceptions is very dangerous and leads farther 
than we at first intend to go, from trifles to 
matters of importance. If, therefore., you have 
resolved once after mature consideration to lend 
out no book, to drink no more than a certain 
quantity of wine, &c. &c. your own father even 
must not be capable to persuade you to decline 
from it, while the motives which determined 
your first resolution continue to remain in force. 
Be firm, but cautious not to take a resolution 
until you have considered all possible cases, nor 
to persist obstinately in trifles. 

Above all things be always consistent. Form 
a certain plan of life and do not swerve from it 
the breadth of a hair, although that plan should 
be rather singular. People will perhaps talk 
a short time of your singularity, but finally be 
silent, refrain, from disturbing you any further 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. JQ 

anil esteem you for your firmness. We in 
general arc always gainers by a regular perse- 
verance and a wise firmness. Principles resem- 
ble in one point all other materials of which 
something is made ; namely, the best proof of 
their goodness consists in their durability; and, 
in truth, when we minutely inquire into the 
reasons from which even the noblest actions of 
some people frequently are under- rated, we find 
oftentimes that the Public suspects the object 
and tendency of these actions, because they do 
not seem to accord with the system of the man 
that performs them, because they are inconsist- 
ent with his usual mode of proceeding. 

XX. ABOVE all things strive to have always 
a good conscience. Avoid most studiously to 
give your heart the least occasion to reproach 
you on account of the object of your actions and 
of the means which you employ to attain it. 
Pursue never crooked ways and you may firmly 
rely upon good consequences, the assistance of 
GOD and of good men in time of need. Al- 
though you should be thwarted for some time by 
misfortune, yet the blissful consciousness of the 
goodness of your heart and of the rectitude of 
your designs will afford you uncommon strength 
and comfort ; your sorrowful countenance will 
c 2 



20 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

interest those with whom you converse much 
more than the grimaces of the smiling and 
grinning villain \vhoseems to be happy. 

XXI. BE consistent in your conduct, what- 
ever the part be which you have undertaken to 
act. Be not warm, civil and obliging, pleasant 
and entertaining to-day, and cool, rude, dry 
and mute as a statue to-morrow! It is difficult 
and disagreeable to converse with people of such 
a fickle disposition. When they are in good 
humour or no other person is with them who is 
of a higher rank, jocoser or a better flatterer 
than we are, they will receive us with marks of 
the most cordial and intimate friendship. We 
are charmed with their conduct, rely upon their 
kindness, and go a few days after to pay another 
visit to that agreeable man who was so extremely 
glad to see us, and invited us so kindly to come 
very often to his house. But how different is 
our reception ! We are received with a chilling 
coldness and grave looks ; our host leaves us in 
a corner, to amuse ourselves as well as we can, 
and replies only in monosyllables to our ques- 
tions, because he is just surrounded with venal 
parasites who can flatter his passions better than 
we. I advise you to drop by degrees all con- 
nexions with such people, and if afterwards they 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 21 

should be actuated by a transient whim to seek 
your company again, to receive them in return 
with serious dignity, and to steal imperceptibly 
out of their society. 

XXII. MAKE some distinction in your 
external conduct towards those with whom you 
converse, and in the marks of attention which 
you show them. Do not shake hands with 
every one, nor press all your acquaintances with- 
out discrimination to your heart : for what will 
be left for the friend of your bosom or those 
whom you prefer, and who can rely upon your 
marks of friendship and esteem ? who can set 
any value upon them if you dispense them so 
lavishly ? 

XXIII. THERE arc two principal motives 
that ought to prevent us from being too commu- 
nicative ; first, the fear of betraying our weak- 
ness and being abused ; and then the consider- 
ation that if we have used people once to be 
informed of all our concerns, they will at last 
expect to be made acquainted with every trifling 
step which we take, to know all our affairs and 
to be consulted on all occasions. On the other 
hand, we must also avoid being too reserved 
and close : because this might lead others to 
suspect something important or even dangerous 



22 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

to be at the bottom of all our transactions, 
which would involve us in many disagreeable 
situations and render us objects of suspicion, 
particularly in foreign countries, on travels and 
many other occasions. Too much reserve can 
also hurt us very much in Social Life in general, 
and injure us even in the conversation with 
worthy friends. 

$ XXrV. ATTEMPT never to render a person 
ridiculous in company how many defects soever 
he may have. If he be stupid, you will reap 
little honour from directing the shafts of your 
wit at him ; should he however happen to be 
less stupid than you think, you may become the 
butt of his ridicule ; if he be noble minded and 
gifted with a feeling heart you will hurt him ; 
and should he be malicious and revengeful he 
will, perhaps, resent it sooner or later. And 
if the Public have but the least consideration for 
our opinion of others, we can easily injure a 
good man in civil life by ridiculing him in com- 
pany, or depress a weak person so much as to 
extinguish every spark of ambition, and to 
destroy every budding talent in his soul, when 
we expose him to scorn and disgrace by unveil- 
ing his defects. 

' XXV. TERRIFY and teaze no person, not 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 23 

even your most intimate friends, by false reports, 
vexatious jokes, nor by any thing that could 
reduce them to a momentary distress or uneasi- 
ness. There are so many really unpleasant, 
anxious and distressing moments in this world, 
that it is our fraternal duty to remove every 
thing that could add even as little as the weight 
of a grain of the balance to the load of real and 
imaginary evils. It is equally wrong and impru- 
dent to give a friend out of merriment a momen- 
tary pleasure that soon passes away, by fictitious 
joyful intelligence. There are real acts of cru- 
elty which do not season, but embitter the joys 
of Social Conversation. Prudence also advises 
you not to excite curiosity nor to torment people 
by unfinished sentences, but rather to be silent 
if you are not inclined to speak out. There 
are people who ,are used to give their friends 
such mysterious hints, as for instance : " I 
have heard very unpleasant things of you, but 
am not at liberty to communicate to you what 
J have been told,'* Such hints are of no use 
and create uneasiness, 

We must in general perplex people as little 
as possible, and when some person is going to 
commit an imprudent action; for instance, to 
speak ill of a book whose author is present, pr 



14 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

to be put to the blush in any other manner, 
rather spare him that perplexity and endeavour 
to repair his blunder as well as we can ; and if 
any person through inattention fhould break or 
drop something, or commit any other trifling 
mistake, good breeding requires we should take 
no notice of it, at least not look at him with 
marks of dissatisfaction or astonishment, which 
would only increase his distress. 

XXVI. ABOVE all things let us never 
forget that people want to be amused and enter- 
tained ; that even the most instructive conver-r 
sation at last becomes irksome to many if it 
be not seasoned by occasional sallies of wit and 
good humour ; further, that nothing in the 
world appears to the generality wittier, wiser 
and more pleasant than what is said to their 
praise and flatters their vanity ; but that it also 
is beneath the dignity of a rational man to act 
the mean part of a jester, and unworthy of an 
honest man to flatter meanly. There is a cer- 
tain medium which I wish to recommend to 
you. Every man has at least one good quality 
which we may praise without degrading our- 
selves ; and an encomium of that sort uttered 
by a man of understanding and judgment may 
become an impulse to strive at greater per- 

1 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 25 

faction. This hint will be sufficient for those 
that are inclined to understand me. 

Display as much as you can an unruffled 
and serene countenance. Nothing is more 
charming and amiable than a certain jovial and 
cheerful disposition which emanates from the 
source of a guiltless heart that is not agitated 
by the tempests of warring and violent passions. 
A person that constantly hunts after witticisms 
and shows that he has studied to amuse the 
company, will please only for a short time and 
interest but a few; his Society will not be 
courted by those whose hearts pant after better 
conversation, and whose minds wish for Socratic 
entertainment. 

A person who sets up for a dealer in witti- 
cisms and jokes not only exhausts himself soon 
and grows flat, but also experiences frequently 
the misfortune to offend his companions, if he 
be in a particular humour to open the treasures 
of his jocose trifles. Every meal to which he 
is invited, every civility that is shewn him, 
seems to be attended with the onerous condition 
to deserve that honour by a display of his jokes; 
and if ever he attempt to raise his tone to a 
higher strain and to introduce a serious subject, 
he is laughed at before he has finished his sen- 



26 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

tence. True humour and genuine wit cannot 
be forced nor produced by art and mental 
toils ; but they are felt like the presence of a 
celestial being, creating pleasure, congenial 
warmth and secret awe. When you wish to 
display your wit you ought always to consider 
first in what company you are. A discourse 
which is very entertaining to people of a certain 
education, may appear very tedious and im- 
proper to others, and a humorous expression 
which is received well in a society composed of 
gentlemen may be very unseasonable in a circle 
of ladies. 

XXVII. QUIT the society of no person 
without having told him something obliging or 
instructive, in a manner which does not ofFencJ 
his modesty nor has the appearance of being 
studied, that he may have no reason to think 
the hour lost which he has spent in your com- 
pany, and be sensible that you interest yourself 
for him, that you are sincerely concerned for 
his happiness, and do not lavisti your civilities 
indiscriminately upon ev r ery one that happens to 
come in your way. But do not misunderstand 
me ! I wish if possible to banish all idle talk 
from conversation, and to prevail upon my 
readers to be careful never to utter any thing 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 27 

that neither is useful nor imparts real pleasure to 

him who must listen to vou, and interests neither 

* 

his head nor his heart. I "do therefore not 
recommend to you the custom of those that 
distress all their acquaintances without inter- 
mission by empty compliments, flatteries and 
encomiums which admit of no reasonable reply. 
As for the rest, I do not think it improper to 
intermix our discourse sometimes with a well- 
meant expression of civility, or a merited and 
modest encomium that may serve as an incite- 
ment to the further pursuit of virtue. The sub- 
sequent example will more clearly elucidate my 
real principles with regard to this point : I once 
sat at the table of a friend between a beautiful, 
young and sensible lady, and a little deformed 
and ugly old maid. I committed the rudeness 
to converse during dinner only with the former, 
and to neglect the latter entirely. When the 
desert was served up the rudeness of my conduct 
suddenly struck me, and I now repaired the 
fault which I had committed, by a gross offence 
against sincerity and veracity. Turning myself 
towards my neglected neighbour, I mentioned 
an incident which had happened about twenty 
years since, and when she told me she did not 
recollect it I had the meanness to reply : " It 



28 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

is no woncter, for then you must have been a 
child." The little deformed being was highly 
pleased at my thinking her so young, and that 
single word gained me her good opinion. Sh,<t 
ought however to have despised me for that 
flattery. How easy would it have been for me 
to introduce a subject that could have interested 
her without nourishing her silly infatuation ! 
and this would have been my duty ; instead of 
which I neglected her entirely all the time while 
we were at dinner. That miserable flattery was 
undoubtedly a very unmanly and dishonourable 
expedient to make amends for my ungentleman- 
like neglect. 

We may however sometimes give great 
offence to some people though we imagined 
what we said was very obliging. There are, 
for instance, persons who would take it very ill 
were we to assure them that they appear to be 
very good-natured, and others are offended if 
they are told that they have a very healthy 
look. 

XXVIII. IF you are desirous to gain lasting 
respect ; if you wish to offend no one ; to tire 
no person by your conversation ; I advise you 
not to season your discourse constantly with 
aspersions, ridicule and backbiting, nor to use 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 2Q 

yourself to the contemptible custom of jeering. 
This may please now and then, particularly in 
the cirde of a certain class of people ; but a 
man that constantly labours to amuse the com- 
pany at the expense of other people, or of truth, 
\yjll certainly be shunned and despised at last, 
and he deserves it ; for a man of feeling and 
understanding will bear with the failings of 
others, as he must be sensible how much mis- 
chief sometimes a single ridicule may produce 
though no harm be meant. He also cannot but 
wish for more substantial and useful conversa- 
tion and loathe gibing nonsense. Yet we use 
ourselves but too easily to that miserable cus- 
tom in what they call the fashionable circles. 
I do however not mean to condemn all ridicule 
in general and at all times, nor to deny that 
many follies and absurdities can be counteracted 
best in less familiar circles by the lashes of 
fine, not too plain nor too personal, ridicule. 
Neither do I desire you to applaud every thing 
you see and hear, nor to excuse all faults ; I 
rather must confess, that I always suspect people 
that affect to cover all defects of others with 
the cloak of charity. They arc generally hvpo- 
crites who wish to bribe others by the honour- 
able terms in which they fpeak of them, to 



3O PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHr 

forget the injuries which they commit against 
those very persons : or they intend to prevail 
on us by such a conduct, to be equally indul- 
gent to their own failings and defects. 

XXIX. AVOID as much as possible to 
relate anecdotes, particularly such as place others 
in an unfavourable light, especially if they be 
founded merely on hearsay. They are fre- 
quently idle inventions, or have passed already 
through so many hands as to be greatly exag- 
gerated or mutilated, and thus essentially altered. 
We can oftentimes seriously injure innocent 
and deserving people by the relation of such 
anecdotes, and more frequently involve our- 
selves in great difficulties. 

XXX. BE careful not to carry stories from 
one house to another, nor to relate familiar 
table talks, family discourses and observations 
which you have made on the domestic concerns 
and life of people with whom you frequently 
converse. Although you should not be a mali- 
cious tale-bearer, yet such an officious garrulity 
would create mistrust and might occasion a great 
deal of animosity and disharmony. 

XXXI. BE cautious how you censure and 
contradict others. There are few things in the 
world that have not at least two different sides. 



OF SOCIAL LIFE.- 31 

Prejudices overdarkcn frequently the judgment 
even of a wise man, and it is difficult to form, 
always a just idea of the situation of others. 
Be also particularly careful not to judge rashly 
of the actions of judicious men, unless your 
modesty tell you that you are wiser than those 
whom you censure. This internal sense of our 
own superiority is however always very sus- 
picious. A wise man generally is more lively 
than another, has to combat more violent pas- 
sions, cares little for the opinion of the multi- 
tude, and is less anxious than others to justify 
the purity of his motives. As for the rest, you 
will do well always to ask before you pronounce 
judgment upon others : " What good docs 
that man do ? Is he useful to his brethren ? 
And if he be, you ought to forget the little 
passionate failings which he has, and which are 
hurtful to no out but himself, or at most cause 
only a trifling and transient harm. 

Above all things do not presume to weigh 
scrupulously the motives by which others are 
actuated to do good. Such an account would 
perhaps frequently render your own deeds, even 
those that afford you the greatest satisfaction, 
very diminutive. The influence which an 
action has upon the happiness of the world, 



32 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

ought always to be the standard by which we 
-estimate its merits or demerits. 

XXXII. TAKE heed not to tire the pa- 
tience of your hearers by tedious and prolix 
discourses. A certain laconism, if it do not 
degenerate into an affected mode of speak- 
ing only in sentences and aphorisms, or of 
weighing scrupulously every word a certain 
laconism, i. e. the gift of saying much in few 
words, and of keeping the attention alive by 
the omission of unimportant details, and at 
other times the skill of rendering a trifling cir- 
cumstance interesting by relating it in a lively 
manner is the real art of social eloquence. 
I shall however speak of it more at large in 
another place, and now only advise you not to 
talk too much in general. Be parsimonious in 
dispensing your words and knowledge lest your 
store should be exhausted too soon, and you 
relate what you neither ought nor intended to 
disclose, which only will serve to render your 
discourse tedious and disagreeable. Let others 
also speak and contribute their share towards 
the general conversation. There are- people 
who without perceiving it, monopolize every 
where the conversation, and were they in a 
company of more r than fifty people would 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 33 

nevertheless soon find means to be the only 
speakers in the room. Disagreeable as this 
must be to every company it is equally unplea- 
sant and destroys no less the glee of Social 
Conversation, when on the other hand we see 
people of a different disposition standing mute 
and listening as if they were spies, catching 
every improper and imprudent word that escapes 
in the unsuspicious heat of conversation, as it 
should appear for some sinister and malicious 
purpose. 

XXX^II. THERE are people in Social Life 
who arc always ready to receive but never will 
give ; who desire to be amused, instructed, 
served and applauded, paid and nursed as it 
were by the rest of the Public, without giving 
any thing in return ; who complain of being 
tired to death by the dulness of their com- 
panions, but do not consider that others have 
just reason to retort the same complaint against 
themselves ; who will sit quietly upon their 
chair, listening with pleasure to the sallies and 
exhilarating discourses of others, without taking 
the trouble to contribute any thing to the 
amusement of the company. This is however 
as unjust as it is tiresome. There are also 
many who constantly arc speaking only of their 

VOL. I. D 



34 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

own person, of their domestic concerns, their 
relations, deeds and official occupations ; who 
turn every subject that is brought upon the 
carpet into that channel, and take every simile, 
every idea which they start from these things. 
Avoid as much as possible to display in mixed 
companies the shape, and to speak in the tone 
which you have received by your special edu- 
cation, your profession and station in life. Do 
not speak of subjects that can be interesting to 
no one but yousself. Make no allusion to anec- 
dotes which are unknown to the company in 
which you are, nor to passages from books 
which they probably never have read. Con- 
verse not in a foreign language if you have 
reason to believe that not all those who are 
present understand it. Learn to accommodate 
yourself to the tone of the Society in which 
you are. Nothing can be more absurd than, if, 
for instance, the physician entertain a groupe 
of young ladies with a description of his col- 
lection of anatomical preparations ; if the 
divine in a circle of men of the world enter 
into a prolix discussion of some casuistical 
point in theology, and the old and infirm 
literati entertain a young coquette with an 
enumeration of his corns and sores. 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 35 

We happen however frequently to come into 
companies where it is extremely difficult to 
introduce an interesting subject. If a sensible 
man be surrounded by people that have no taste 
for discourses of a better sort and relish only 
idle and trifling talk, it is no fault of his if he 
be not understood, and he may console himself 
with the consciousness of having spoken of 
matters that ought to interest. 

$ XXXIV. SPEAK therefore not too much of 
yourself when you are not in a circle of inti- 
mate friends that interest themselves warmly in 
all your concerns ; and even then you will do 
well to avoid all egotism. Take care not to 
speak too much of yourself if your friends out 
of civility should turn the conversation upon 
your person, your publications and similar sub- 
jects. Modesty is one of the most amiable 
qualities, and pleases the more the more rarely it 
is to be met with in our times. Be therefore 
also not too eager to read your Hterary compo- 
sitions to people without being asked to recite 
them, to display your talents and to relate your 
meritorious actions, nor to give others an 
opportunity to request it of you. I would also 
advise you not to distress others by your con- 
versation, /'. e. not to display such a superiority 
D 2 



36 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

as to render your companions mute, or to 
place them in a disadvantageous light. 

XXXV. Do not contradict yourself in 
conversation by supporting some principle or 
other which you have combated on a former 
occasion. We may change our opinions, but 
prudence requires we should not judge deci- 
sively in company, until we have weighed all the 
arguments for and against the point in question. 

XXXVI. TAKE care not to expose your- 
self on every occasion from want of memory or 
attention to yourself, because you are in love 
with your own wit, by relating the same stories, 
anecdotes, similes, &c. &c. on every occasion. 
It is in general, but particularly in Social Con- 
versation, highly important that we should 
. sharpen our memory, and for that reason not 
use ourselves too much to write down every 
thing we wish to recollect. 

XXXVII. Do not season your discourses 
with duplicities, nor with allusions to objects 
that either create aversion or make chastity 
blush : nor applaud those that do it. No sen- 
sible man can relish such discourses. Deny no 
where your sense of shame and chastity and 
your aversion from obscenity, though the com- 
pany should consist only of men. 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 37 

XXXVIII. INTERMIX not your discourses 
with flat common place expressions. Avoid, 
for instance, the hacknied assertion ' that health 
is an invaluable treasure;' * that skaiting is a cold 
amusement ;' * that every one is his nearest 
neighbour;' * thatall iswell that ends well ;' ' that 
a burnt child fears the fire;' or ' that time passes 
swiftly away,' which en passant is not true; for 
as time is computed after a fixed standard it 
cannot pass quicker than it must do ; and a 
person to whom one year appears to have passed 
more rapidly than another, must have slept 
more than usual or not have been in his senses ; 
such sentences are tiresome and frequently non- 
sensical and void of truth. 

There are some mechanical people one half 
of whose discourses are composed of certain 
expressions which they utter without thinking. 
They find you for instance dangerously ill in. 
your bed and ' rejoice to see you well.' If you 
shew them your picture, < that it is indeed an 
excellent likeness but painted much too old.' 
They will say of all children ' that they are very 
big for their age, and very like their father or 
mother,' &c. &c. 

^ XXXIX. Do not tcaze those with whom 
you converse with useless questions. There 



38 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

are people who being used to shape all their 
discourses in the form of question and answer, 
assail us with such a number of interrogatives 
as to render it impossible for us to converse with 
them after our own manner. 

XL. LEARN to brook contradiction. Be 
not childishly fond of your own opinions. Do 
not grow passionate and rude in disputing, not 
even when your serious arguments are opposed 
by ridicule and jeering. You have lost half, 
however good your cause may be, if you lose 
your equanimity; at least you will not be able 
to convince your opponent. 

XLI. TALK not of your domestic con- 
cerns, nor of vexatious subjects in the playhouse, 
in concerts and other places of amusement. 
We resort to these places to divert and to rest 
ourselves, to forget the cares and troubles of 
life and to unbend our mind, it is therefore 
highly improper to obtrude our diurnal yoke 
again upon our shoulders. 

^ XLII. I THINK you will agree with me that 
no honest and sensible man will scoff at essen- 
tial doctrines of religion, though he should be 
so unfortunate as to question their truth ; but 
I must observe that it would be equally impro- 
per to ridicule in company religious rites, cere- 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 3Q 

monies that are held by many to be material 
parts of religion, or human institutions which 
some sects esteem as articles of faith. You 
ought to respect what is eacred to others, and 
to suffer your brethren to enjoy the same liberty 
which you claim for yourself. Do not forget 
that what we call mental illumination may be 
darkness to others. Spare prejudices that afford 
peace to your weaker brethren. Rob no one 
without giving him something better for what 
you take from him. Recollect always that 
ridicule never can convince others ; that our 
reason which in this sublunary world labours 
under many impediments can easily err in such 
important matters; that it is difficult to over- 
turn a defective system, which however is the 
basis of a good moral edifice, without pulling 
down at the same time the whole fabric ; and 
finally, that such subjects are unfit for being 
discussed at all in mixed companies. I think 
however that in our age we avoid but too stu- 
diously and anxiously all opportunities of speak- 
ing of religion. Some people are ashamed to 
evince a warm regard for divine worship from 
fear of being taxed with want of mental light, 
and others affect to be animated with religious 
sentiments, and are anxious to avoid speaking 

1 



.40 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

against fanaticism in order to ingratiate them- 
selves with the devotees. The former is the 
most contemptible sort of cowardice, and the 
latter mean hypocrisy : either are equally 
unbecoming an honest man. 

XLIII. WHENEVER you speak of bodily, 
mental^ moral or other defects, or relate anec- 
dotes that place certain principles in a ridiculous 
light, or reflect some blame upon certain ranks 
in life ; then be cautious to ascertain first that 
no one is present who could be offended by it, 
or take that censure or ridicule as a reflection 
upon himself, or his relations and friends. 

Ridicule the person, shape and features of no 
one; for it is not in the power of any mortal 
to alter them. 

Nothing is more distressing, grievous and 
revolting to a man who unfortunately has a 
singular countenance or figure than to per- 
ceive that it is an object of ridicule or surprise. 
People that are acquainted with the world and 
have lived amongst men of all forms and shapes 
ought certainly not to be in want of being told 
of it ; but, alas ! we find even amongst people 
of the first quality, particularly amongst the 
female part, persons who have so little com- 
mand over themselves or such indifferent 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 41 

notions of decorum and equity, as not to be 
able to conceal the impression which an uncom- 
mon sight of that sort produces upon them. 
This is however a mark of great weakness ; 
and besides if we consider how relative our 
notions of beauty and deformity are, how pre- 
carious our physiognomical knowledge is, and 
how often a beautiful, noble, warm and gene- 
rous heart, and a great, well informed and 
philosophical mind, is the inhabitant of an 
apparently ugly form ; we may justly conclude 
how little we arc intitled to draw injurious 
inferences from the external appearance of a 
man, and that it is always extremely wrong to ' 
betray the impression which such a sight pro- 
duces upon us through laughter, or in any 
other manner. There are also other objects 
besides a singular shape that frequently strike 
us ; as for instance, ridiculous, fantastical and 
absurd miens, manners, distortions of the body, 
an imprudent and improper conduct, a singular 
and grotesque dress, &c. &c. Good breeding 
requires also of us not to express our astonish- 
ment at these singularities by sarcastic smiles 
or signs to those that are present, and thus to 
increase the confusion of the poor man that is 
guilty of them. 



42 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

XLIV. IF you wish to speak to your friend 
in company of a person that is present, (though 
whispering is in general highly improper), take 
at least the precaution not to look or to point at 
the man of whom you are going to speak : and 
if you are to listen to a discourse concerning 
yourself which is carried on at some distance 
from you, prudence requires you should not 
turn your looks that way ; for this will put the 
speakers upon their guard, and we hear besides 
with the ears only and not with the eyes. 

XLV. BE careful not to remind people 
with whom you converse of disagreeable mat- 
ters without having a necessity to do it. Many 
persons are actuated by an imprudent concern) 
to inquire after the state of our oeconomical and 
other disagreeable circumstances, although they 
can be of no service to us, and thus force us 
constantly to ruminate in societies where we 
expected to be exhilarated upon matters which 
we are anxious to forget. Such a conduct is 
extremely improper, imprudent and cruel, if 
we be not certain that discourses of that sort 
rather will ease and comfort the person to whom 
we address them than encreasc his sufferings 
and sorrows. 

Refrain also from prejudicing people against 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 43 

any thing which they have once in their pos- 
session and are not at liberty to give up again, 
and do not render your connexions dissatisfied 
with their situation by disagreeable representa- 
tions of its disadvantages. There are, alas ! 
but too many preachers of truth of that class 
who make it their business to reason the most 
happy and innocent prejudices away, and thus 
rob their brethren frequently of the only com- 
fort which they have. This is indeed highly 
unbecoming a man who possesses a feeling 
mind, and besides can do no good, but rather 
be productive of the most lamentable con- 
sequences. 

$ XLVI. WHEN a person tells disagreeable 
things to another or puts him to the blush, do 
not take a share in it nor seem to approve of it 
by applauding smiles, but rather pretend not to 
hear it. The nobleness of such a conduct is 
felt and frequently gratefully rewarded. 

^ XLVII. I SHALL treat of the custom of 
speaking in paradoxes, of the spirit of contrast- 
ing and disputing, and of quoting the opinion of 
others, in a succeeding chapter of the second 
volume, to which I refer my readers. 

XLVIII. SECRECY is one of the cardinal 
virtues in human life, but, alas ! more rarely 



44 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

to be met with every day. Men are in our 
times so uncommonly fraudulent in their pro- 
mises, nay even in the most solemn assurances 
and oaths, as to betray without hesitation 
secrets that have been intrusted to them under 
the seal of the most inviolable secrecy. People 
of another class who are less void of consci- 
entiousness but extremely heedless, cannot 
bridle their loquacity on any account. They 
forget that they have been desired to be silent, 
and reveal out of an unpardonable imprudence 
the most important secrets of their friends in 
public places ; or supposing every one whom 
they happen to meet to be a faithful friend, 
communicate what they ought not to regard as 
their property to people that are as thoughtless 
as themselves. Persons of this description are 
equally heedless with regard to their own 
secrets, plans and concerns, and thus destroy 
frequently their temporal happiness and ruin 
their best designs. 

It is obvious how much injury in general 
must arise from such an imprudent disclosure of 
our own secrets and those of others. But there 
are also many other things which properly are 
no secrets, of which reason however teaches 
us that it would be better to conceal than to 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 45 

divulge them, because the communication of 
them can be useful and instructive to no one, 
and become hurtful to some person or other. 
I recommend therefore a prudent rcservedness, 
which however must not degenerate into a 
ridiculous mysteriousness. I must observe on 
this occasion that people in general are more 
reserved in despotic states than in countries 
which enjoy more liberty. In the former fear 
and mistrust tie the tongue, and in the latter 
every one follows the impulse of his heart to 
communicate his ideas without restraint. 

If we cannot avoid intrusting several people 
atone time with the same secret, it will be pru- 
dent we should enjoin the strictest secrecy to 
every one of them, to lead each of them to 
think that he is the sole possessor and will be 
alone accountable for the keeping of it. 

Many people are in the habit of not explain- 
ing themselves distinctly and give no absolute 
promise when requested by us to preserve a 
secret which we are going to disclose to them. 
Good nature prevents us frequently in such a 
case to trust to their discretion. Such an am- 
biguous conduct is however unbecoming a real 
gentleman ; an honest man declares his inten- 
tion without reserve, and listens not to a dis- 



46 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

closure of that nature until he has informed us 
how far he can engage himself to keep the 
secret which we are going to communicate to 
him. 

XLIX. WHAT the French call contenance, 
harmony and consistency in our external con- 
duct, equanimity, abstinence from all violence, 
from all passionate heat and precipitation ought 
to be a particular object of the study of people 
of a violent temper. 

The art of expressing ourselves concisely, 
clearly and with energy, without circumlocution 
and with warmth, and of accommodating our- 
selves to the capacities of those with whom we 
converse so as not to tire them : the gift of 
relating well and with humour, without laugh- 
ing at our own sallies, of representing our 
object drily or in a smiling shape, in a serious 
or a comical garment and in its natural colours, 
is a great talent which can be acquired only by 
study and close application. If we aim at some 
perfection in this great art we must study our 
person, have a proper command over our coun- 
tenance, guard against all unnatural distortions 
of the face, and if we know that certain ges- 
tures give our form a disagreeable appearance, 
endeavour to avoid them as much as possible. 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 4? 

Our port and gestures must be noble. It is 
therefore highly improper to put our head, arms, 
and all other limbs in motion like people of 
the lowest class, when we speak of unimportant 
and unaffccting subjects. When \veoonversewith 
others we ought to look them mildly andmodestly 
in the face, and to avoid carefully to play with the 
buttons of our coat or any thing else. In short, 
every thing that bespeaks a polite education 
and attention to ourselves is required if our 
conversation be to please, and it is highly 
important we should not indulge ourselves in 
these apparently trifling matters, and observe 
every rule of the strictest decorum, even in the 
circle of our family, in order to render those 
things natural and habitual to us which we so 
frequently neglect, and which appear to us to 
be an onerous restraint if we accustom our- 
selves to disregard them. It would lead me too 
far beyond the limits of this work were I to 
enlarge more minutely here on this point ; I 
shall therefore only remark in general that it is 
highly improper to interrupt others when they 
are speaking; that civility requires we should 
take the plate which our neighbour offers to us 
at table, though we should not incline to eat 
any of the viands that arc upon it, and to give 



48 

it farther in order to save him the trouble to 
hold it longer in his hands on our account ; 
to turn our back as little as possible to other 
people; to be careful to commit no mistakes in 
names and titles ; when \ve are walking with 
people who are punctilious, to let him that is 
superior to us always go on the right side, or 
in the middle if there be three together ; to 
open the window a little or at least to make a 
movement as if we were going to do so, when 
some person passes our house and salutes us ; 
that we ought to observe the same rule when 
we are in a coach ; that we should not stare 
impudently at those with whom we converse, 
but look open and free in their face, have a 
proper command over our voice, not halloo, 
and yet speak distinctly, preserve a certain dig- 
nity in our gait, and not take the lead of the 
conversation in all companies ; that when we 
are walking with a lady we must offer her our 
left arm if she do not walk conveniently 
on the right side ; that on steep stairs we must 
let the ladies go before us in descending, but 
in ascending walk before them ; that when 
people do not comprehend us and we foresee that 
a more minute explanation would be of no use, 
or when the subject is of so little importance as 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 40 

'not to deserve a great expenditure of words we 
ought to give up our point ; that people of 
rank if they be biassed by prejudices will be 
offended if one who is inferior to them men- 
tion their name along with his own, as for 
instance, " We have won yesterday at play :" 
for they require to be treated as if they alone 
were worth mentioning ; that it is improper in 
company to whisper in the ear of our neigh- 
bour, to lean our head upon our hands at table, 
or to make an tick faces ; that it is a breach of 
good breeding to spoil an innocent joke in 
company, for instance, when a person exhibits 
tricks with cards and we know the manner of 
proceeding, to expose him ; that it is improper 
to return a toothpick to the person who obliged 
us with it after having used it ; that we ought 
not to call people ten times back to inform them 
of numerous trifles which we forgot to mention 
when they parted with us at the door or in. 
the street ; that it is a very unbecoming custom 
to have always something between our fingeri 
or in our mouth with which we amuse ourselves 
while we are in conversation with others j that 
we first ought to beg leave when we want to 
read a letter or to do any thing else of that 
nature in the presence of others ; that when 
VOL. r. E 



5$ PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

we pass some person to whom we owe respect, 
propriety requires we should pull off our hat on 
the side which is opposite to that where he 
walks, lest we should touch him with it or 
prevent his seeing our face ; that it is a breach 
of decorum to sit in an awkward posture at 
table, to make ridiculous faces, or to suffer a 
lady or a person who is our superior to assist 
others with viands from a dish that stands before 
us, &c. &c. People of a certain rank and such 
as have not had a very common education know 
these trifling rules from their infancy ; I must 
however observe that a neglect of them is not 
looked upon as indifferent by many, and fre- 
quently can hurt us materially in the opinion of 
those on whom our fortune depends. 

^ L. THERE are some more social improprie- 
ties and incongruities which we must avoid and 
which will appear to us in their proper light if 
we consider what the consequence would be, if 
every individual of the company in which we 
are were to take the same liberty ; for instance, 
to sleep during sermon ; to talk in a con- 
cert ; to whisper into the ear of a friend 
behind the back of another, or to make signs 
to the former which the latter could apply to 
himself; to talk privately in company with a 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 51 

friend ; to expose ourselves if we dance or play 
an instrument indifferently, and thus to excite 
the merriment of the company or to make them 
yawn ; when people want to make room for us, 
to run ten times in all directions against them 
as Yorick did to the Marchioness of S * * at 
Milan ; to play at cards although we know the 
game but indifferently, and thus to tire the 
patience of those that play against us, or to 
make our partners lose their money by our 
want of skill ; to hum the tune which we are 
dancing ; to stand in the playhouse, and thus to 
prevent those that sit behind us from seeing; to 
come later into company, to leave it sooner, or 
to stay longer than the rest. Avoid all such 
improprieties ! Look not into the papers of 
others, nor stay alone in an apartment where 
money, notes or writings are on the table. If 
two persons who walk before you converse 
softly and cautiously with each other, you 
ought to make some noise to prevent all sus- 
picion of being inclined to overhear them, and 
to spare them a disagreeable perplexity. Tri- 
fling as such marks of discretion may appear to 
some of my readers, yet they tend to render 
conversation pleasant and easy, and therefore 
ought to be attended to. 
E 2 



52 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

LI. WE arc frequently tired and vexed at 
the tediousness and prolixity of those with 
whom we happen to converse. Reason, pru- 
dence and, charity require we should exert all 
our patience on such occasions if we cannot 
avoid them, and not to betray our displeasure 
by rudeness and an insulting conduct. The 
more inane such a discourse, and the more 
talkative the person is who delivers it, the more 
are we at liberty to reflect upon other subjects. 
But suppose this should not be, we ought at 
least to recollect how many hours we dream 
away uselessly. We owe besides some sacri- 
fice to the societies which we frequent, and 
should consider that we also frequently tire 
others by our discourses, however high our 
opinion may be of the importance of our 
deliveries. 

' LII. SOME people possess an innate facility 
of conversing with men, and a natural gift to 
form many new connections with the greatest 
ease, and to obtain the good opinion of others 
in a short time ; whereas others labour under a 
certain habitual timidity and bashfulness, of 
which they cannot divest themselves although 
they see daily new faces. This timidity is 
undoubtedly but too often the consequence of 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 53 

an erroneous and defective education, and 
sometimes arises also from a secret vanity which 
renders them fearful not to appear to advantage. 
This fearful ness in the company of strangers 
seems to be constitutional with many people, 
and all their struggles to shake it off arc fruit- 
Jess. A certain reigning Prince who is one of 
the most deserving and sensible men whom I 
know, and who also has not the least reason to 
be bashful on account of his person, nor to fear his 
producing unfavourable impressions, has assured 
me, that although he was used from his infancy 
to see every day new faces and large companies, 
yet he could never step into his anti-chamber 
where his courtiers were assembled without 
being entirely blinded as it were for some 
moments. Yet that timidity leaves that amiable 
Prince as soon as he has collected himself a 
little, when he converses freely and kindly 
with every one, and starts better subjects than 
his brethren in general are apt to introduce on 
such occasions, when the weather, their dogs, 
horses and similarunimportant objects commonly 
arc the sole theme of their discourses. 

A certain ease in conversation and the gift 
to appear to advantage on the first interview, as 
well as to enter without restraint into conver- 



54 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

sation with strangers, and to distinguish at first 
sight whom we have before us and what sub- 
ject we ought to introduce, are therefore 
qualities which we cannot improve and cultivate 
too diligently. It is however to be wished that 
this might never degenerate into that sort of 
impudence and importunity which is so pecu- 
liar to adventurers, who sometimes contrive to 
learn in less than an hour's time the lives of a 
whole company, and arc always ready to relate 
their own adventures ; who do not blush to 
solicit without hesitation the friendship and the 
kind offices of every new acquaintance^ or to 
offer their services and protection to people 
whom they see for the first time. The princi- 
pal point in conversation is to be able to fall 
easily in with the tone which is new to us, and 
display and advance nothing in the circles to 
which we are introduced that is neither valued 
nor understood there. 

^ LIII. IT is therefore also necessary you 
should not take too great pretensions with you 
into all circles to which you are admitted. 
Prudence requires you should not expect to be 
looked upon as the chief person in all compa- 
nies, to shine and to bo distinguished, nor pre- 
sume to desire that all eyes should be directed 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 55 

exclusively at you, and all cars listen only to 
jour conversation. If you disregard this advice 
you may be certain that you will imagine your- 
self to be neglected in all companies, act a 
pitiful part, become troublesome to yourself and 
others, flee the society of men and be shunned 
by them in return. I know many people of 
this description who, whenever they are to 
appear in an advantageous light, must be the 
centre around which the whole company moves; 
and there are also a great number who in 
Social Life can bear the society of no one that 
could be compared with them. They are excel- 
lent, noble, great, useful, beneficent and witty, 
when they arc the only persons in company to 
whom we direct our discourse, requests, expecta- 
tions and hopes ; but little, mean, revengeful and 
weak ns soon as they are to range themselves 
in rank and file, and destroy every edifice the 
building of which has not been superintended 
by themselves, nay even their own structure if 
another person have added a small ornament to 
it. This is an unhappy and unsociable dispo- 
sition. If you wish to live happy yourself and 
to render others so, I would advise you in 
general to expect and to demand in this sublu- 
nary world as little as possible. 
1 



56 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

LIV. THUS much on external decorum and 
good manners ! I now shall add only a few 
words more on dress. Let your dress be neither 
above nor beneath your situation ; not above 
nor beneath your fortune ; not fantastical nor 
too gay, nor ostentatiously sumptuous, splendid 
and extravagant, but clean, decent and taste- 
ful ; and if you must live sumptuously let your 
expenses be tributary to solidity and elegance. 
Distinguish yourself neither by an old-fashioned 
dress nor by imitating every modish foppery. 
Bestow a more than common attention to your 
attire when you must mix with the higher 
classes. We are distressed in company if we 
are conscious of appearing in an improper attire. 

Never wear borrowed garments ; for this has 
the most noxious influence upon the character 
in more than one respect. 

LV. IP you ask ( whether it be better to 
go often or seldom in company,' I must refer 
you to your own individual situation. The 
circumstances, wants, and many other trifling 
considerations of different persons may render 
either one or the other more advisable and 
eligible ; I must however make the general 
remark, that we ought never to intrude upon 
people nor to visit them too often ; and as we 



OP SOCIAL LIPB. 57 

cannot always please every one, that it is better 
our friends and acquaintances should ask us, 
* why we see them so rarely ?' than complain of 
our coming too often and intruding ourselves 
every where. We have a certain internal sense 
(if infatuation and presumption do not blind us) 
which tells us whether our visit be agreeable or 
not, and whether we may stay longer or ought 
to take our leave ? The manner in which we 
are treated by the children and domestics is 
frequently a pretty unequivocal indication of 
the disposition of their parents and masters 
towards us. 

As for the rest, I advise you to form as few 
familiar connections as possible ; to select only 
a small circle of friends, and to be extremely 
careful how you extend it. Men are but too 
apt to abuse or to slight us if we become per- 
fectly familiar with them. If we wish to live 
comfortably, we must in general remain stran- 
gers to others in some degree ; for then they 
will spare and respect us, and court our society. 
On this account it is highly eligible to live in 
great cities where we every day can see other 
people. This is extremely pleasing to a man 
that is not timid amongst strangers ; for then 
we hear frequently what we perhaps should not 



58 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

have learnt if we had been known to the com- 
pany. No person watches us and we can make 
many useful observations. 

LVI. As for the rest, I advise you also for 
vour own sake and that of others never to 

y 

believe any society to be so entirely indifferent, 
or the discourse of any person so totally inane, 
as to render it impossible for you to learn at 
least something- from it, or to derive from it 
matter for reflection. .- 

Do not desire to meet in all companies- with 
erudition and fine culture ; but prefer, encou- 
rage and promote sound natural understanding 
and plain sense; afford those that are gifted 
with it opportunities to display and to exert it, 
and mix with people of all ranks, and you will 
acquire by degrees the tone and disposition of 
mind which time and circumstances will demand. 

$ LVII. BUT with whom are we to converse 
most frequently ? The solution of this query 
naturally must be modified by the particular 
situation of every individual. If we can choose, 
(which en passant is oftener the case than we 
think), it will, always be advisable to select those 
for owr companions that are wiser than our- 
selves, people of whom we can icarn something 
useful^ who do not Halter and are superior ,to 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 5(> 

iis. We prefer however but too frequently to 
assemble around us a circle of inferior geniuses, 
who whirl around us in obsequious gyration a 
often as our superior mind is pleased to brandish 
its magical wand ; the consequence of which is 
that we always remain as we were, and never 
improve in wisdom and virtue. There are 
indeed situations in Social Life in which it i 
useoil and instructive to mix with people of all 
capacities, nay, where it is our duty to con- 
verse not only with persons of whom we can 
learn something, but also with such as can 
derive instruction from us* and have no right to 
demand it ; but this condescension ought never 
to be carried so far as to endanger the account 
which we must give one time of the use of our 
life and of our duty to strive at greater per- 
fection. 

^ LVIII. THE tone that prevails in compa- 
nies is frequently uncommonly singular and 
unaccountable. Prejudice, vanity, custom, 
authority, the desire of imitating others, and 
Heaven knows what more, frequently render 
that tone so peculiar, that sometimes people 
who live in the same place, meet and converse 
with each other year after year, and talk of 
subjects in such a manner as renders their con- 



60 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

versation highly tiresome and tedious to the 
whole company and to every individual member 
of it. They believe however nevertheless to be 
obliged to submit to the inconvenience of con- 
tinuing that sort of life without interruption. 
Can it be maintained with the least colour of 
truth that most fashionable circles afford only to 
a single member real pleasure ? How often do 
we find scarcely ten persons amongst fifty that 
take up the cards who play from inclination ? 
It is therefore highly ridiculous if free and inde- 
pendent people who live in small towns, or even 
in villages and could enjoy life in a rational 
manner, unshackled by the onerous fetters of 
fashion, bend their necks under that painful 
and -cumbersome yoke in order to imitate the 
fashionable follies of the capital. If we have 
some influence over our neighbours and fellow- 
citizens, it is our duty to contribute as much as 
lies in our power to render that tone more 
rational. But if this should not be the case 
and we happen to drop singly into such a circle, 
it will be prudent in us not to encrease by an 
awkward, sullen or morose conduct, the unea- 
siness of the landlord and his guests, but 
rather to shew ourselves as masters of the art of 
talking much without saying anything, and to 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 6l 

claim at least the merit to fill up a vacancy 
which otherwise would have been occupied by 
slander. 

In populous and large cities we arc least ob- 
served and can live according to our inclination; 
for there we are under less restraint, less watched 
and controlled ; our domestic concerns are less 
exposed to observation and censure ; we may 
walk about unobserved, peaceably and undis- 
turbed, transact our business and choose a mode 
of life as we think it most convenient. But in 
small towns we are doomed to keep a strict 
account with a number of frequently tiresome 
acquaintances, cousins, &c. &c. of the visits 
we arc expected to pay and to receive, which 
generally begin at an early hour in the after- 
noon and last till ten or eleven o'clock at night, 
during which time the news from the capital, 
politics and similar edifying subjects are com- 
monly the sole topics of conversation. This is 
undoubtedly highly painful to a man of sense ; 
yet there are means of refining by degrees the 
tone of conversation in such places, or of pre- 
vailing upon the weak Public after we have been 
scandalized a few months, to suffer us to live 
in our own manner, if we arc honest, humane, 
obliging and sociable. In villages and at our 



(52 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

country seats we may undoubtedly live most 
comfortable ; and a person that is desirous to 
make a good use of his time and to contribute 
to the happiness of others, finds there numerous 
opportunities to be a benefactor of the most 
useful but too much neglected class : social 
pleasures are however more difficult to be 
procured in the country than in cities and 
towns. In those moments our heart is most in 
want of the society of some dear friend, the 
faithful partner in our joys and sorrows being 
perhaps many miles distant from us, unless we 
be rich enough to collect a whole army of 
friends around us; but this is also attended 
with many inconveniences, and very rich people 
feel besides this want but rarely. If you wish 
to live happy in the country, you must therefore 
. learn the great art to relish and to discover the 
good qualities of those that happen to be about 
you, not to grow tired of simple pleasures, to 
husband them well, and to give them a pleasing 
variety. 

Our conversation in the country is very apt 
to grow tiresome and insipid, because our wives, 
children and domestic friends are constantly 
about us. This may be remedied by a store of 
good books which afford new matter for conver- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 03 

sation, by an interesting correspondence with 
absent friends that are dear to us, and by a wise 
management of our time. No pleasure is 
sweeter in the country than that of meeting 
our little social circle in the evening of a well- 
spent day, after we have performed some useful 
business, either to take a walk, or to unbend 
our mind by cheerful conversation and innocent 
sports : but nothing is more dreadful than to 
see people in small towns or in the country, 
who must meet every day, constantly quarrel 
with each other, although they are not rich 
enough to be entirely independent. They ren- 
der their existence miserable in the last degree. 
It is therefore highly important for people that 
reside in small towns or in the country, to be 
indulgent, obliging, pliant, circumspect and 
prudent in their conduct, and to observe a kind 
of coquetry in conversation, in order to prevent 
misunderstanding, disgust and aversion. But 
we have also no where more reason to be cau- 
tious with regard to our discourses and actions 
than in small towns, and such places where a 
narrow-minded tone prevails, because those 
that live there have little amusement, and fre- 
quently know of no other diversion than to 
repeat the story of every gossip and to meddle 



4 PRCATICAL PHILOSOPHY 

with the affairs of their neighbours and ac- 
quaintances. 

LIX. IN foreign countries we cannot be 
too circumspect in conversation from various 
considerations. It is always very necessary not 
to slight certain relations, whether we travel 
for the sake of instruction, or in political or 
economical concerns, or only to amuse our- 
selves. If we travel to gather instruction, we 
ought above all things to consider in what coun- 
try we are, and whether we may speak of and 
inquire after every thing without exposing our- 
selves to danger or vexation. There are but 
too many states where the government severely 
punishes those that bring certain works of dark- 
ness to light. In such countries circumspection 
is highly necessary as well in our conversations 
and inquiries as in the choice of those with 
whom we form connections. On this occasion 
I must observe, that very few travellers have a 
right to trouble their head about the internal 
constitution of foreign countries ; yet curiosity 
and a certain impulse of restless activity unites 
in our age large numbers, to collect in foreign 
hotels, inns and clubs dubious anecdotes for 
the composition of some indigested work, 
while they would have found at home sufficient 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. t)5 

to do and to learn, if they really had the welfare 
of mankind as much at heart as they pretend. 
It is obvious that this precaution is doubly neces- 
sary when we have something to ask or to trans- 
act for our own benefit in a foreign place. As 
in such a case many eyes are directed at us, we 
must avoid all connection with people who 
being dissatisfied with the existing government 
are eager to throw themselves into the way of fo- 
reigners, because they have injured their charac- 
ter by their imprudent conduct, and thus de- 
prived themselves of the means of obtaining 
civil advantages, which they however seem to 
scorn as the fox did the grapes. They seek to 
raise themselves a little in the opinion ^f their 
fellow-citizens by intruding themselves upon 
foreigners, attending them every where on their 
walks, and thus leading others to suppose that 
they have connections abroad. A foreigner 
who intends to stop only a few days at a place 
may without danger rove about at pleasure with 
these generally garrulous Cicerornes, who com- 
monly are provided with a large store of jocular 
and scandalous talesand anecdotes : noman of sense 
will blame him for it. But a person that means to 
stay some time at a place and wishes to be intro- 
duced to politer circles, or has totransactbusiness 
VOL. i. E 



66 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

ofconsequence, will do well to consult theopinion 
of the public in the choice of his connections. 

Almost every town contains a party of such 
malcontents who are dissatisfied either with go- 
vernment or with the majority of their fellow- 
citizens. Do not associate with such people, 
nor choose your connections from among them. 
They either imagine they do not receive that 
attention to which they presume to be entitled, 
or are of a turbulent, calumniating, malevolent, 
artful, immoral and arrogant disposition. As 
they are shunned by their fellow-citizens for one 
or the other of these reasons, they establish 
among themselves an association which they 
endeavour to strengthen, by alluring people of 
understanding and probity by flattery and 
other despicable means. Avoid as much as pos- 
sible all intercourse with such people, and every 
thing in general that breathes party spirit, if you 
wish to live comfortably. 

LX. EPISTOLARY correspondence is a con- 
versation carried on by letters; almost all the 
rules which we have given for social conversa- 
tion may therefore be applied to our literary in- 
tercourse with others. Do therefore not extend 
your correspondence too much; for this answers 
no reasonable purpose, and is not only expen- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 67 

&ive, but also will take away much of your time. 
Be as cautious in the choice of those with whom 
you cultivate a familiar correspondence as you 
ought to be in the selection of your daily com- 
panions. Take a firm resolution never to write 
a letter that contains not something that can be 
useful, or afford real pleasure to the person to 
whom it is directed. Circumspection is still 
more necessary in writing than in speaking. It 
is also highly important we should take proper 
care of the letters which we receive. It will 
scarcely be believed how much vexation, ani- 
mosity and discord can arise from the neglect of 
this rule of prudence. A single irrevocable 
word written in a letter, a single slip of paper 
left carelessly upon the table or dropped by ac- 
cident has frequently utterly ruined the peace 
of many persons, and destroyed the happiness of 
whole families. We can therefore not be too 
circumspect with regard to our letters and to 
writing in general. "I repeat it, a heedless word 
which we utter is generally soon forgotten, but 
one that is written can produce the greatest mis- 
chief even after the lapse of many years. 

Letters whose speedy and careful delivery is 
of some importance to you ought always to be 
sent by the regular post, and never to be trans- 
F 2 



68 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

mitted from motives of oeconomy by travellers 
or enclosed to others, for we can rarely rely 
upon the punctuality of people in general. 

Never read your letters if possible in the pre- 
sence of others but always when you are by 
yourself; for the contrary is a breach of civility, 
and also may lead you to betray their contents 
by your change of countenance. 

There are people particularly among the la- 
dies, who trouble their friends and acquaint- 
ances that live with them in the same place on 
every trifling occasion with notes and penny- 
post letters, a custom which is extremely im- 
proper as it encroaches upon the time of many 
persons who know how to employ it to a better 
purpose, and are not at leisure to read and to 
answer every useless scrawl which is sent to 
them by idle people. 

LXI. BELIEVE always that most people are 
not half so good as their friends represent them, 
nor half so bad as they are painted by their ene- 
mies, and you may be certain that you will 
derive many important benefits from it. 

Judge not of men by their words but by their 
deeds, and choose for your observations those 
moments in which they do not suspect to be 
observed by you. Direct your attention to 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 69 

their less important proceedings, but not to ac- 
tions of great moment which generally are per- 
formed with more precaution and circumspec- 
tion. Observe the humour which a "healthy 
man displays when he awakes from sleep, and 
the disposition which he shews in the prior part 
of the day when body and soul appear in their 
morning dress. Endeavour to learn what sort 
of viands and beverage he likes best : whether 
he prefers very substantial and simple food or 
high seasoned and compound dishes ; observe 
his gait and port, whether he loves to walk by 
himself or prefers to lean upon the arm of an 
other ; whether he walks in a strait line or cros- 
ses the way of his companion, runs against 
others and treads upon their feet; whether he 
dislikes walking by himself and always must have 
a person to attend him ; whether he uses to con- 
sult his friends and acquaintances upon every 
trifle, and regulates his conduct after that of his 
neighbours and connections; whether he imme- 
diately picks up what he has dropt, or leaves it upon 
the ground and takes it up only when it is most 
convenient to him ; whether he is used to inter- 
rupt the discourse of others, and monopolizes as 
it were the conversation ; whether he is fond of 
being mysterious, and accustomed to call people 



70 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

aside to whisper trifling matters in their ear ; 
whether he is eager to decide in every matter 
that is brought upon the carpet, &c. &c. The 
hand-writing of people corresponds also fre- 
quently with their character. All children 
whose education I have superintended have 
learnt to shape their letters after the form of 
mine, but as soon as their disposition began to 
unfold itself every one added gradually some 
features of his own. At the first view their 
hand- writing seemed to be alike; but upon more 
minute examination, I could discover laziness in 
the manner of one, and in that of others nar- 
rowness of soul, inconsistency, thoughtlessness, 
firmness, perverseness, regularity, or any other 
peculiarity. Collect all these observations care- 
fully; but be not so unjust as to judge of the 
whole character by a few of these and similar 
traits. Be not too partial to people that are 
more civil to you than others. 

Beware to rely firmly upon the love and 
friendship of others, before you have proofs of 
their affection that have cost them some sacri- 
fice. Most people that seem to be cordially 
devoted to us, shrink back as soon as occasion 
demands they should suppress their favourite in- 
clination on our account. This is the real stand- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 71 

ard by which we can judge how we ought to 
value the attachment of others. It is no merit 
"todo every thing in our power to oblige and to 
please a friend while we can do it conveniently; 
the real and only test of our sincere concern for 
his happiness, consists in our readiness to pur- 
chase his comfort even at the cxpence of our fa- 
vourite propensities. 

LXII. ALL these general and the subse- 
quent special rules as well as many more which 
I must leave to the judgment of my readers, lest 
J should transgress the limits of this work, tend 
to render conversation easy and pleasant and to 
sweeten Social Life. But there may be some who 
perhaps have particular reasons to disregard one 
or the other of these rules, and in that case I 
think it but just to leave every one at liberty 
to promote his individual happiness in his own 
way. I shall obtrude my specifics upon no 
one. Those that wish neither for the favour of 
the great nor for general applause nor fame, 
that on account of their political or ceconomical 
situation or from other reasons have no occa- 
sion to extend the circle of their acquaintances, 
and people who arc compelled by old age or in- 
firmity to shun social conversation, are not in 
want of these rules. We ought therefore to be 



/2 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

just enough to demand of no one that he should 
accommodate himself to our customs, but let 
him steer his own course; for as the happiness 
of every individual depends upon the notions 
which he entertains of it it would be cruel to 
attempt to compel any one to be happy contrary 
to his inclination. It is highly entertaining to 
observe how busy some empty headed geniuses 
sometimes are to decry a worthy man, who has 
no inclination to accommodate himself to the 
silly tone that prevails in their circles, and being 
perfectly satisfied with his secluded existence 
refuses to sacrifice his precious time to the pue- 
rile whims of every fool. When we refuse to be 
slaves to society we offend very often those busy 
idlers who know of no other occupation than 
to go from their beds to the looking-glass, thence 
to dinner, from dinner to the card-table, and 
then to bed again.. But this is extremely un- 
just, and we ought to blame no one for refusing 
to sacrifice his duty to sociability. To stay at 
home and to do what we ought to do and for 
which we are accountable, does indeed not de- 
serve to be called a ridiculous singularity. 

LXIII. BEFORE I point out the particular 
rules which we must observe in the conversation 
with men, I beg leave "to make one more obser- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 73 

vation. Did I write only or principally forJadht} 
I should have omitted or at least modified 
many of the rules which I have laid down and 
intend giving in the subsequent pages, or sub- 
stituted others in their room which would be 
less useful to men. This however is not the 
scope of my book. Experienced and wise la- 
dies alone can give to their sex the best rules for 
regulating their conduct properly in Social Life; 
this is a task in which a man would not succeed. 
If however the fair sex should find in this work 
some useful hints which they can apply to 
themselves it would be no small satisfaction 
to me. I only beg leave to observe here, that 
ladies are restrained by many considerations 
which do not concern our sex. They depend 
more than men upon the opinion of the world, 
and must be more cautious and reserved in their 
conduct. On one hand they arc indulged with 
more inadvertencies than our sex, and on the 
other with more whims: their conduct begins 
sooner to influence their character, while boys 
and youths may be more heedless without inju- 
ring themselves in a material degree ; their ex- 
istence is (or at least ought to be) confined 
chiefly to their domestic circle, whereas the 
man is tied more firmly to the state by his skua- 



74 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

tion. From this reason many virtues and vices, 
actions and omissions, produce entirely different 
consequences if they be committed by one sex 
than if chargeable upon the other. 



CHAPTER II. 
On the Conversation with Ourselves. 



SECTION I. 

JL HE duties which we have to observe towards 
ourselves are of the last importance, to converse 
with our own person can therefore neither be 
useless nor uninteresting. It is inexcusable in 
any man to live constantly abroad and to neg- 
lect his own society in order to converse with 
others, to flee as it were from himself, not to 
cultivate his own Self, and nevertheless to med- 
dle uninterruptedly with the concerns of others. 
A man who makes it his daily occupation to live 
abroad becomes a stranger in his own house; a 
person that lives in a constant round of diver- 
sions becomes a stranger to his own heart, is 
compelled to strive to kill his internal weariness 
in the croud of idle people, loses all confidence 



OP SOCIAL LIEE. 75 

in himself and is in the greatest distress if ever 
he find himself vis-a-vis with himself. The 
man that frequents only those circles in which 
he is flattered, grows so averse from the voice of 
truth that at last lie shuts his ears against it if it 
speak, in his heart. If his conscience neverthe- 
less continue to reproach him, he plunges into 
the bustle of society where that beneficial mo- 
nitor is silenced. 

II. TAKE therefore care not to neglect your 
sincerest friend, your own self, so as to make 
him turn his back on you when you are most in 
want of him : alas! there will be moments in 
which you dare not forsake yourself, though all 
the world should relinquish you, moments in 
which the conversation with your own self will 
be your only comfort. But what will become 
of you in such moments if you be at war with 
your own heart, if this last and only friend too 
deny you all kind of consolation and assistance? 

III. BUT if you wish to find comfort, hap- 
piness and peace in conversing with your own 
self, you must display towards your own person 
as much prudence, honesty, propriety and justice 
as you ought to show in the society of others, 
and neither exasperate nor depress yourself by 
neglect, nor corrupt your heart by flattery. 



76 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

IV. TAKE care of the health of your soul as 
well as of that of your body; but spoil neither the 
one nor the other by too much tenderness. The 
man that endangers his constitution by too much 
labour or excess, squanders away a treasure 
which frequently is alone sufficient to raise him 
above men and fate, and without which the 
wealth of all the world is not worth a pin. But 
he that dreads every breeze of air and is fearful 
to exert and toexercisehis limbs, lives a nerveless 
life of constant anxiety, and attempts in vain to 
put the rusty springs in motion when he has oc- 
casion to exert his natural powers. A man that 
constantly exposes his mind to the tempests of 
passion, or incessantly crowds the sails of his 
spirit, either runs aground or must return with 
his leaky vessel into port, when the best season 
for making new discoveries sets in. But he that 
suffers the faculties of his understanding and me- 
mory constantly to sleep, or shudders at every 
little struggle or at any sort of painful exertion, 
enjoys not only very little of the sweets of life, 
but is also totally lost as soon as energy, courage 
and resolution is required. 

Take therefore care not to torment yourself 
by imaginary sufferings of the body or the soul; 
do not give way to every adverse incident or 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 77 

corporeal affliction ! Take courage and be reso- 
lute! All the storms of adversity are transient; 
all difficulties can be overcome by firmness of 
mind, and the remembrance of every loss can be 
exploded from the memory if we bend our atten- 
tion upon some other object. 

V. Have a proper regard for yourself if you 
wish to be esteemed by others. Do nothing 
secretly of which you would be ashamed if a 
stranger were to sec it. Act well and properly, 
rather to preserve your regard for yourself than 
to please others. Do not indulge yourself with 
regard to your dress and appearance when you 
are alone. Do not walk about in a dirty, ragged 
and improper attire, nor slovenly and negligently 
when you are not observed. Preserve a proper 
sense of your internal dignity. Never lose your 
reliance upon yourself, and upon the conscious- 
ness of your value in the eyes of your Creator ; 
and although you are sensible not to be as wise 
and capable as others, yet do not despair to come 
up with them ; let not your zeal slacken, nor be 
wanting in probity of heart ! 

VI. Do not despair nor grow faint-hearted 
if you cannot attain that degree of moral or in- 
tellectual greatness at which an other has arri- 
ved, and be not so unjust as to overlook those i 

I 



/S PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

advantages which you perhaps have before him. 
But suppose this should not be the case, is it 
possible we all could be equally great? Resist the 
desire to rule or to act a conspicuous part. Alas ! 
you do not know how dearly we often must pay 
for it. I am very sensible that it is extremely 
difficult to conquer the desire to become a great 
man; if we be firmly persuaded vvearegifted with 
great abilities and possess internal merit, par- 
ticularly if we live amongst a herd of nerveless 
beings who are destitute of mental and bodily 
energy, and see how little they value our worth, 
how little influence we have upon them, how 
little they are sensible of our superiority, and 
how arrogantly the most pitiful and the dullest 
geniuses, who attain the object of their pre- 
sumptuous wishes without any exertion of their 
own, look down upon us. It is truly hard! You 
try all ways and means to obtain the reward due 
to your merits and to render yourself useful; 
but all your attempts are fruitless, and the state 
remains blind to your worth. You attempt to 
distinguish yourself by the superiour excellence 
of your domestic establishment; but your in- 
come is too small, and your wife does not sup- 
port you properly ; your spirit is depressed by 
domestic cares, and thus you are compelled to 



OP SOCIAL LIPE. 79 

keep in the common road; you perceive with 
pain that your abilities are doomed to lie dor- 
mant, and that the springs of your soul grow 
rusty from inactivity ; but you cannot resolve 
to have recourse to the usual artifices to render 
yourself important, and to excite the attention of 
your cotemporaries by a pompous shew of your 
capacities; nor can you reconcile yourself to a 
life of obscurity and idleness. I confess your 
situation is truly painful and unfortunate: Yet do 
not despair; have confidence in yourself and trust 
to Providence! There exists a greatness which is 
independent on men, fate and the applause of the 
world ; it consists in the internal consciousness 
of our merit and rectitude ; and our sense of it 
grows stronger the less it is taken notice of. 

VII. Be an agreeable companion to your- 
self: that is, never be entirely unoccupied, nor 
have too often recourse to the store of know- 
ledge which you have treasured up in your soul; 
but collect new ideas from books and men. It 
is astonishing how tiresome we grow to ourselves 
and others if we ruminate constantly only upon 
our favourite ideas, and how soon we then ac- 
custom ourselves to reject all other notions that 
differ from those upon which we are used to feed 
day after day. 



60 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

Our own society does however never grow 
more tedious and distressing to ourselves than 
when we have painful accounts to settle with 
our heart and conscience. If you wish to con- 
vince yourself of the truth of this assertion you 
need but to observe the difference of your dis- 
position. How much dissatisfied with ourselves^ 
how absent and how burthensome to ourselves 
are we after a train of hours which we have tri- 
fled away or spent in doing wrong, and how 
serene, how happy to reflect upon our conduct, 
and to give audience to our ideas at the close of 
a well -spent day ! 

^ VIII. You must however not be satisfied 
with being merely an agreeable and entertaining 
companion to yourself, but also avoid all sort of 
self-flattery and show yourself your own best and 
sincerest friend. If you desire to be as kind and 
obliging to your own person as you are to your 
acquaintances, you must also be as severe and 
just to yourself as you are to others. We are 
but too apt to be indulgent to ourselves while 
we censure the conduct of others with the great- 
est rigour, and to impute our deviations from 
the right path, though we acknowledge them as 
sails to fate or to irresistible impulsions, while we 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 81 

treat our erring brethren with intolerance. This 
is however extremely wrong and unjust. 

IX. LET not the consciousness of your 
being better and wiser than others that are of 
your age and in a situation similar to yours, be 
the standard by which you estimate your merits; 
but judge of the real value of your deserts by 
your capacities, your education and the oppor- 
tunities which you have had to grow wiser and 
better than many others. Give frequently an 
impartial account to yourself on this point in 
the hours of solitude, and ask yourself as an 
unprejudiced judge, how you have improved all 
opportunities to attain a higher degree of per- 
fection ? 



CHAPTER III. 

On the Conversation with People of different 
Tempers and Dispositions. 



SECTION I. 

W E allow generally that there are four diffe- 
rent kinds of temper, and maintain that a man is 
either of a choleric, a phlegmatic, a sanguine, 
VOL. i. G 



82 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

or a melancholy disposition. Although neither 
of these tempers ever prevail so exclusively in 
our constitution as not to be modified in a smal- 
ler or greater degree by some allay of another, 
which infinite mixture produces the most admi- 
rable variety; yet one of these four cardinal 
winds generally exercises a peculiar power over 
the vessel of every son of Eve, to direct its 
course on the ocean of life. People who are 
entirely of a choleric temper are extremely dan- 
gerous to the peace and tranquillity of those that 
must live in their society. If your happiness 
be dear to you you will do well to shun them as 
much as possible; for their fire burns incessantly, 
lights and consumes without warming. People 
who are entirely of a sanguine temper arc weak 
and inconsistent, destitute of energy and firm- 
ness. Persons of an entirely melancholy temper 
are s\\\\zy phlegmatic and a burden to themselves 
and others. 

People of a cholerico-sangu'me temper in gene- 
ral are those that distinguish themselves most in 
the world, are more feared than others, and are 
more inclined to rule, to build and to destroy; 
the cholerico-sanguine temper constitutes there- 
fore the character which is the attribute of the 
ruler and the despot ; if it be allayed with a 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 83 

certain degree of a melancholy disposition it 
produces a complete tyrant. 

People of a sanguineo-phlegmatic temper en- 
joy undoubtedly the happiest disposition. Their 
life is generally the most tranquil and undistur- 
bed ; they have a true relish of the pleasures 
which the world affords, do not often abuse their 
abilities, hurt no one ; but at the same time 
perform no eminent deeds; yet if this character 
attain the highest degree of which it is capable 
it generally renders those that possess it volup- 
tuaries of the coarsest and most stupid class. 

Choleric o -melancholy people cause a great deal 
of mischief ; thirst of blood, revenge, devasta- 
tion, persecution of innocence and suicide are 
frequently the consequences of this disposition. 

People of a melancholy-sanguine temper gene- 
rally light the torch of their life on both ends at 
once, and ruin their body and soul. 

Chokrico-phlegmattc tempers are rarely to be 
met with : this composition seems to imply a 
contradiction ; and yet there are people in whose 
character these two extremes constantly succeed 
each other like ebb and flood, and these dispo- 
sitions are entirely unfit for occupations that 
require cool reasoning and equanimity. They 
can be put in action only with the greatest 
G 2 



84 PEACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

difficulty, and when they are roused at last from 
their inactivity, rage and foam like wild beasts 
and spoil every thing by their furious impetuo- 
sity. 

Melancholy -phlegmatic dispositions are more 
intolerable than any of the preceding descrip- 
tion, and to live with them is for every rational 
man hell upon earth. I repeat it once more, 
the mixture of tempers is infinitely variegated ; 
but where one of these dispositions decidedly 
prevails we behold always certain virtues or vices 
in its train which are peculiar to it. Thus 
sanguine people for instance are generally vain, 
but benevolent, sympathetic and take to every 
thing that interests them with vivacity and 
passion ; choleric tempers are commonly ambi- 
tious; melancholy dispositions incline to mis- 
trust and avarice, and people of a phlegmatic 
temper persist obstinately in their prejudices to 
save themselves the trouble of reflecting. We 
must study the temper of men if we wish to 
operate upon them in conversation. I can give 
only a few hints with regard to this point if I 
am to keep within the limits of this work. 

II. People of an imperious disposition are 
extremely difficult to be treated properly, and 
entirely unfit for amicable and social conver- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 85 

sation. They are determined to act every where 
the principal part and want to be humoured on 
every occasion. They not only despise what 
has not been erected nor is directed by them- 
selves, but also destroy it if they can : but when- 
ever they have the lead, or at least are persuaded 
they have it, they work with indefatigable zeal 
and overcome all difficulties that are thrown in 
their way. Two people of an imperious temper 
if united to attain jointly the same object never 
will produce any good, but be impelled by their 
private passion to destroy every thing that comes 
in their way. Thence we may easily conclude 
how we must act if we be obliged to live in the 
society of such people. 

^ III. AMBITIOUS people must be treated 
with the same prudence and caution as those of 
an imperious temper. The imperious possess 
always a large share of ambition, but not all 
people of an ambitious disposition are also of an 
imperious temper. They will frequently be 
satisfied with acting a subaltern part .provided 
they may hope to be able to appear to advan- 
tage; nay there are instances in which they 
sometimes will seek honour in humiliation, they 
resent however nothing with more implacability 
than an attack of this weak side of theirs. 

1 



86 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

IV. VAIN people want to be flattered ; 
.praise affords them the greatest pleasure, and 
they will be satisfied if we take much notice of 
them, display attachment to them and admire 
them, although we should not honour them 
much. As every man has more or less desire 
to please and to produce advantageous impres- 
sions, we may sometimes indulge a good man 
that is infected with this weakness in this point 
without doing wrong, now and then drop a word 
that pleases him, let him enjoy the praise which 
he receives and even suffer him to applaud him- 
self a little occasionally. It is however extremely 
degrading for any man to act the mean part of a 
low flatterer, who by cringing adulation infa- 
tuates vain people in such a degree as to render 
them averse to hear any thing but praise, 
and make them shut their ears entirely against 
the sacred voice of truth, and shun and depre- 
ciate every good and candid man that cannot 
resolve to demean himself, or thinks it improper 
and rude to extol them in their presence. The 
learned and ladies are particularly apt to be 
spoiled by that sort of adulation, and I knew 
some whose company on that account was insup- 
portable to every plain-dealing man. At every 
word which you are going to utter they expect 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. $7 

eagerly to hearsomcthing flattering and obliging, 
and cannot conceal their vexation and ill hu- 
mour as soon as they find themselves disappoint- 
ed. The last degree of this vanity leads to a 
kind of egotism which renders us incapable for 
all social and amicable connexions, and grows 
as burdensome to the person infected with it as 
it is disgusting to those that must live with him. 

Although it would be wrong in us to flatter such 
vain people, yet not all persons have a right to 
attempt their reformation, particularly if they be 
not at all connected with them, to lecture them 
in a rude manner, to humble them, or to show 
them less civility and kindness than they would 
show to any other person ; and those that con- 
itantly must live with them would act very 
wrong were they to require this of us, and to 
desire us to assist them in reforming their 
spoiled friends. 

Vain people are very apt to flatter others, 
because they expect to be repaid in their own 
coin. 

V. ARROGANCE differs from imperiousness, 
ambition and vanity as well as from pride. I 
wish pride were regarded as a laudable equality 
of mind, as a consciousness of internal superio- 
rity and dignity, as a sense of our inability to 



88 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

commit a mean action. This pride produces 
great and noble deeds ; it is the last support of 
persecuted innocence, raises us above fate and 
bad men, and compels even the powerful villain 
to admire involuntarily the wise and good man 
whom he oppresses. Arrogance on the con- 
trary actuates us to boast of merits which we do 
not possess, and to be proud of something that 
has no intrinsic value. It is arrogance that 
renders a blockhead proud of his titles and an- 
cestry ! It is arrogance that renders the wealthy 
citizen so stiff, rude and unsociable ! It is arro- 
gance that infatuates the artist with so much 
confidence in his supposed merits and talents, 
which although acknowledged as such by no 
person, raise him in his ideas far above all other 
mortals. If no person admire him, he rather 
will accuse the whole world of want of taste 
than form the natural thought that his abilities 
and skill cannot be so great as he supposes. 

If this arrogance be the inhabitant of a poor 
and disregarded subject, it becomes an object of 
pity and rarely does much harm. It is gene- 
rally attended by stupidity or ignorance, and of 
course incorrigible by sound reasoning, and docs 
not deserve to be treated with modesty and in- 
dulgence. You cannot check arrogance better 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 8Q 

than by repaying persons who are inflated with 
it in their own way, by appearing not to be sen- 
sible of their arrogance, or taking no notice of 
them, and looking upon them as you would 
look at an empty spot even when you want 
their assistance ; for I know from my own 
experience the more you humour them the more 
insolence you will experience. But if you pay 
them in their own coin their stupidity will 
perplex them, and they will lower their high 
strain. 

^ VI. IT is very unpleasant to converse with 
irritable people who are easy to be offended. 
This irritability may however originate from 
different sources. If therefore we find that the 
man with whom we must live and who is apt to 
be irritated by the least unguarded word, or a 
suspicious look, or by want of attention, if you 
find that such a man be very prone to take 
offence because he is inflated with vanity and 
ambition, which is most frequently the case, or 
because he has been vexed and deceived in 
many instances by bad people, or because his 
heart feels too tenderly, or he expects to receive 
from others as much as he gives, you must 
regulate your conduct accordingly, and avoid 
every thing that can give offence, which how- 



0O PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

ever is extremely difficult. If such a man be 
honest and reasonable notwithstanding his weak- 
ness he will soon be reconciled again to you, 
and easily pacified by an amicable and cool 
explanation ; he will gradually be led to trust 
his best friends, and perhaps even shake off his 
weakness at last if you persist in treating him 
with candour and liberality. None amongst 
all those that are of that disposition are more 
difficult to be satisfied and more burthensome 
to society, than people who every moment think 
they are neglected or not honoured enough. 
Take care therefore not to abandon yourself to 
that weakness lest you not only torment your- 
self, but also disturb the peace and tranquillity 
of those that are dear to your heart. 

VII. OBSTIXATE people are by far more 
tedious and troublesome companions than those 
of an irascible temper. Yet they are never- 
theless not quite intractable if they be reason- 
able ; for then they generally soon give way to 
the voice of Reason, become sensible of their 
misconduct and our generosity, and grow more 
pliable at least for a short time, if we refrain 
from contradicting and opposing them in the 
first heat of their passion ; but it is truly 
distressing to be obliged to live and to transact 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. Ql 

business with people whose obstinacy is attended 
with stupidity and ignorance. We attempt in 
vain to meet them with gentleness and argu- 
ments. It is therefore advisable in most cases 
to suffer such stiff-necked fools to prosecute 
their own way blindly, and to entangle them so 
much in their own ideas, plans and undertak- 
ings as to compel them to apply for our assist- 
ance when they are involved in difficulties by 
their heedless and imprudent proceedings. If 
in that case we let them struggle for some time 
with the consequences of their heedless obsti- 
nacy they will frequently grow humble and 
ductile, and become sensible that they want an 
intelligent guide. But if a weak and obstinate 
man unfortunately happen but once to find 
out that we were wrong in opposing him, or 
surprise us in the commission of a trifling 
fault, we must give up all hopes of ever leading 
him again. He then will always presume to be 
wiser than we are and suspect our judgment 
and candour. 

It is useless to reason with people of either 
description in the first moments of their heat, 
for this only renders them more obstinate. If 
we depend upon them and receive orders from 
them which we know will be disapproved by 



Q1 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

themselves afterwards, we can do no better 
than to promise to execute them without 
contradiction : but either to procrastinate 
their execution till they have had time to con- 
sider them more maturely, or to act secretly 
according to our better judgment, which they 
generally will approve in cooler moments if we 
do but lead them to think that we imagined to 
comply with their directions in acting as we 
did, and refrain from boasting of the superiority 
and greater coolness of our own judgment. 

It can be useful and necessary only in very 
few and very pressing instances to oppose 
obstinacy to obstinacy, and to refuse absolutely 
to give up our opinion, or to act contrary to 
our better judgment. But this line of con- 
duct ceases to produce salutary effects if we 
observe it on trifling occasions or too often, or 
even when we are in the wrong. A person who 
constantly contradicts is generally suspected to 
be always in the wrong. 

VIII. PETULANCE is a disposition which 
mostly arises from obstinacy, but sometimes 
also originates merely from singularity or an 
unsociable humour. There are people who 
pretend to know every thing better than others, 
contradict every one, frequently against their 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. Q3 

o\vn conviction, merely for the sake of dis- 
puting. There are others who are fond of 
speaking in paradoxes, and accustomed to main- 
tain assertions which no sensible man can take 
seriously in the sense in which they utter them, 
from no other motive than to provoke contradic- 
tion ; there are finally others whom the French 
call querelleurs (wranglers), that studiously seek 
opportunities to engage in personal disputes, 
in order to obtain a kind of triumph over timid 
people, who at least are of a more fearful dis- 
position than themselves. 

If you must converse with people of these 
descriptions, you will do well to preserve the 
most unshaken firmness and not to suffer your- 
self to be provoked. I advise you never to 
dispute at all with those of the first class, and 
to break off the discourse as soon as they con- 
tradict out of petulance. This is the only 
means of bridling their disputative spirit, and 
saves a great many useless words. Those of 
the second description you may sometimes 
indulge with the pleasure to defend their para- 
doxes against you ; but those of the last class 
must be treated more severely. If you cannot 
avoid their society, and attempt in vain to keep 
them at a proper distance by coolness and 



04 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

reserve, and to ward off their rudeness, I 
would advise you to meet them in so sensible a 
manner as will be sufficient to deter them from 
troubling you any further. Inform them with- 
out either hesitation or circumlocution of your 
opinion, and do not suffer yourself to be per- 
plexed by their gasconading. My readers will 
do me the justice to believe that I think of 
duelling as every reasonable man ought to do, 
namely, that it is an immoral and irrational 
practice ; should however a person be compelled 
by his station in life to conform to the prejudice 
of rcturninginjuryforinjury, and to revenge itby 
personal resentment, this can never be the case 
when he is maliciously attacked without having 
given any provocation, and it is extremely 
wrong to use against a wrangler any other 
weapon than contempt, or at most a cane, if 
he carry his impudence too far ; and it is the 
very height of folly to -\ give him afterwards a 
chance to take away our life. 

Many people are actuated by a singular spirit 
of contradiction. They are always eager to 
obtain what they never can possess, are never 
satisfied with the actions of others, and dis- 
pleased with every thing that is not exactly as 
they desire it to be, although it may be ever 

3 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 0$ 

so excellent. It is pretty generally known that 
people of this description frequently can be led 
to act according to our wishes if we propose 
the contrary of what we want to accomplish, or 
can contrive to make them realize our own ideas 
in opposition to ourselves. 

$ IX. IRASCIBLE people rarely offend pur- 
posely. They have however no comroul over 
the impetuosity of their temper, and thus fre- 
quently forget themselves in the height of their 
passion so much as to offend even their dearest 
friends, but repent afterwards of their heedless- 
ness when it is too late. I need not to prove 
that if these people deserve being humoured in 
some degree on account of other good qualities, 
wise compliance and gentle treatment are the 
only means by which the irascible man can be 
restored to the proper use of his reason. I 
must however observe that by opposing a 
phlegmatic coldness to his rage you will provoke 
him more than by the most violent contra- 
diction ; for he then will think himself despised 
and grow more furious. 

X. WHILE people of an irascible temper 
offend only out of hccdlessness, and are as 
ready to repent and to forgive as they are apt to 
be irritated by trie least appearance of an injury, 



,06 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

those of a revengeful disposition conceal their 
resentment in their heart till they find an oppor- 
tunity of giving vent to their vengeance. 
They neither forget nor forgive an offence, 
even not when you offer to be reconciled to 
them, and use every means except cringing sub- 
mission to regain their favour. A man of a 
revengeful temper returns every injury which 
he really has or only imagines to have received, 
not in proportion to its greatness or importance 
but thousandfold ; persecution for trifling of- 
fences, vengeance for inconsiderate expressions, 
public chastisement for private reproaches, and 
hesitates not to destroy our happiness if we 
offend his ambition. His resentment is not 
confined to the person of the offender, but 
extends itself even to his family, his civil exist- 
ence and friends. It is truly extremely distress- 
ing to live with such a man, and the only advice 
I can give you, is to avoid as much as possible 
to offend him, and to endeavour to inspire him 
with a kind of respectful awe, which in general 
is the only efficacious means to curb people of 
a bad temper. 

^ XI. LAZY and phlegmatic people must be 
spurred incessantly, and as almost every person 
has at least one predominant passion, we find 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. Q7 

sometimes an opportunity to put such drowsy 
people in "motion by exciting it. 

There are some among this class of people 
who are prompted merely by irresolution to 
postpone business that is attended with the 
smallest trouble. To answer a letter, to write 
a receipt, to pay a bill, &c. &c. is regarded by 
them as a labour which requires the most tedious 
preparation. People of this description must 
sometimes actually be compelled by force to 
take the most pressing business in hand ; yet 
when they have finished their laborious task 
they are generally obliged to us for our impor- 
tunity, although they were not pleased with it 
at first. 

XII. THE company of mistrustful, suspicious, 
morose and close people tends more than any 
thing to imbitter the joys of Social Life to a 
noble-minded and plain-dealing man. It re- 
quires in truth a very high degree of unshaken 
probity, if a man shall be able to avoid growing 
bad and misanthropic himself, when he sees 
that they are alarmed at every unguarded step 
which he takes, and give room to ungenerous 
suspicion on every trifling occasion, that their 
bosom is inaccessible to every spark of exhilara- 
ting joy that expands his hegrt ; that they are 

VOL. i. H 



Q8 PRCATICAL PHILOSOPHY 

determined to share no pleasing enjoyment with 
him ; that they not only render the rapture of 
those few serene moments which Fate dispenses 
to us tasteless to him, but also disturb him 
unfeelingly in his happiest and brightest hu- 
mours, rouse him cruelly from his sweetest 
dreams and never return his frankness, but 
always are upon their guard and imagine to 
behold an impostor in their most faithful servant, 
and a treacherous enemy in their sincerest 
friend. 

This mental disease degenerates frequently 
into misanthropy, a character which the amiable 
author of The Stranger has painted in the most 
natural and animated colours. 

People of such an unhappy temper are sin- 
cerely to be pitied ; for they live only to torment 
themselves and others, and their lamentable 
disposition arises not always from a depraved 
heart. A corrupted and thick blood is fre- 
quently the primary cause of such a temper, and 
a long train of undeserved misfortunes contri- 
butes very much to encrease this mental disease. 
It originates also but too often from the deceit- 
ful and ungenerous conduct of those with 
whom such people are connected. There are, 
alas ! but too many cruel and artful wretches 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. Q0 

that avail themselves of the weakness of good- 
natured people to gain their confidence by 
canning flattery, and when they have insnared 
their heart by the semblance of disinterested 
love and have no further occasion to dissemble, 
pull off the mask of friendship and appear in 
their natural diabolical form. It would there- 
fore be ungenerous to hate and to distress 
people who by external Causes have been reduced 
to such a lamentable state of mind; and equity 
requires we should excuse their weakness and 
treat them with forbearance and pity. 

If your situation should render it impossible 
for you to break off all connexion with persons 
of such an unhappy disposition, prudence 
requires you should not mind their whims and 
humour, but treat them with candour and 
openness on all occasions ; let them see as 
much as possible the origin, motives, course 
and object of your actions ; conceal nothing 
from them that is connected with their interest 
or passions ; consult them in every thing that 
concerns them, and act jointly with them in all 
matters relating to them. Thus you will gain 
their confidence, or at least gradually remove 
every suspicion which they entertain against 
your sincerity. I also would advise you not 

H2 



10O PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

to let them see that you know them to be of a 
suspicious temper ; for the suspicious is like a 
drunken person who will not believe that he is 
intoxicated, and is offended if you tell him that 
he has drunk too much. 

Watch all instances in which your suspicious 
friend is deceived, by his suspicion ; in which 
he was mistaken in doubting your sincerity or 
that of others, or injured himself by giving 
way to groundless suspicion. Avail yourself of 
the first cool and serene moment in which he is 
pleased with you to remind him mildly of his 
error. But be careful not to let a single 
instance of that kind escape without improving 
it. -Tell him whenever you have an opportu- 
nity to convince him that he wronged you (not 
that he is suspicious, but only) that you are glad 
that the purity of your heart is cleared from all 
suspicion. He will deny having suspected you. 
Do not contradict him, but be satisfied to tell 
him that you rejoice at his being convinced of 
your innocence. If you repeat this frequently 
you will at last succeed in making him sensible 
of his weakness and ashamed of his improper 
and unjust conduct. In endeavouring to ob- 
viate the effects of suspicion and to correct it, 
you must prevent all occasions on which it is 



OP SOCIAL LIPB. 101 

most commonly excited ; for no person of a 
suspicious temper gives way to his weakness on 
all occasions, but every one that is subject to 
it abandons himself to it only on particular 
opportunities. If for instance your friend be 
near you must never interfere in his money 
concerns though he should desire it; if he be 
mysterious and reserved you must never consent 
to be intrusted with his secrets ; if he be 
jealous you must avoid all opportunities to be 
in private with the object of his jealousy, 
&c. &c. &c. 

On observing these rules of prudence you 
will be convinced that in most instances it is 
our fault if we cannot live happy among men. 
A person who unites prudence of conduct with 
a benevolent heart, and studies men, knows 
their weaknesses and avoids provoking their 
faults, will be able to live happy even with the 
most ill-tempered people. And believe me 
such a wise and benevolent conduct will in a 
short time grow easy and natural to you, though 
it should be attended in the beginning with a 
great deal of trouble and self-denial : for you 
need but to converse thus for some time with a 
suspicious person and you will cure him entirely, 
or at least cause his weakness to break out less 



103 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

frequently and obviate many disagreeable and 
vexatious quarrels. 

XIII. ONE should think that envy and 
jealousy could be the inheritance only of mali- 
cious and low-minded people ; and yet we find 
but too often an allay of these bad qualities in 
the hearts of several persons who, in other re- 
spects, possess many good dispositions. But, 
alas ! how frail is human nature ! ambition and 
vanity caq easily tempt us to envy others a 
happiness which is the exclusive object of our 
wishes, and as soon as this sensation has pro- 
duced in our heart a kind of aversion from the 
person who remains in the possession of that 
envied good, in spite of our envy and jealousy, 
we cannot avoid to rejoice secretly if he have to 
struggle with some misfortunes ; and Providence 
appears to us to justify by these calamities our 
inimical sentiments, particularly if we have been 
weak enough to betray them to others. I shall 
speak more at large in some other place of the 
conduct which we must adopt, if we be con- 
nected with people of a jealous disposition, and 
here give only some general rules, the observa- 
tion of which may prevent us in many instances 
from provoking envy to direct its poisonous 
shafts at us. If you wish to avoid exciting th? 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 1O3 

envy of others you will do well to enjoy what- 
ever you possess without ostentation, and to 
make as little shew of your prosperity, merits 
and talents as possible. Boast not of your 
wealth in every company, enjoy the pleasures of 
life with as much moderation and as little noise 
as possible ; let your dress rather bespeak taste 
than a propensity for ostentatious splendour ; 
and if you be so fortunate as to be intimately 
connected and to correspond with certain great 
and wealthy people, avoid to commit the weak- 
ness of proclaiming it to all the world, or to read 
with a childish vanity their letters to all your 
friends. Take notice of the good qualities and 
merits which you discover in those that envy 
you. Let them see that you are not blind to 
their brighter parts ; speak of them, commend 
them, and thus convince them that they also 
possess desirable qualities. This will tend to 
reconcile them, at least in some degree, to your 
superiority, soothe their vexation and counter-* 
act their mental disease. 

XIV. ENVY frequently produces the dread- 
ful vice of calumny^ from the attacks of which 
even the best and worthiest characters are not 
secure. The best means which you can apply 
to guard off its baneful effects is the preserva- 
tion of your innocence. Do not flatter yourself 



104 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

to remain unhurt from its venomous blasts, if 
your conscience accuse you of secret actions 
which you would be ashamed to confess to the 
world, but have committed with so much pru- 
dence and art as to keep them entirely from the 
knowledge of your friends and connexions. 
The consciousness of having acted wrong will 
deprive you of the courage and firmness which 
you must have, if you shall be able to defeat the 
malicious inventions of those who want to ruin 
your character. But let us even suppose you 
should be able to meet the calumniator with 
firmness, notwithstanding the secret accusations 
of your heart, and to prove his assertions to be 
nothing else but malicious inventions, will your 
defence avail you anything if one of those pri- 
vate actions with which your consience re- 
proaches you unfortunately should transpire, and 
render your exculpation suspicious ? And is it 
in the power of any mortal to direct the course 
of incidents so as to prevent it taking a turn 
which would expose him in his natural shape ? 
If therefore you wish to evade the dire effects 
of calumny you cannot be too careful to reserve 
your innocence of heart. But as calumny gene- 
rally founds her suspicions and aspersions rather 
on appearances than on facts, you ought at the 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 105 

same time to be extremely cautious not to commit 
any action that has even the semblance of guilt. 
In vain will you appeal to the purity of your heart 
and the innocence of your actions if appear- 
ances be against you ; for, alas ! the majority 
are but too prone to be guided in their opinion 
by the latter, and few only will take the trouble 
to examine impartially whether they are founded 
on facts or not. Endeavour therefore, as much 
as possible, to preserve the purity of your heart, 
and to avoid all unfavourable appearances if 
you wish to avert the poisonous shafts which 
calumny directs at your character. 

To have displayed a warm and active zeal for 
the welfare of your fellow-creatures will also serve 
to arm you powerfully against the attacks of 
malicious calumniators. If you be an useless 
being and have done little or no good, if you 
have afforded advice, consolation and assistance 
to no one, calumny will find it easy to wound 
your honour ; for you have done no good ac- 
tions which could speak in your defence, and 
there is no person who could say anything 
laudable of you : but if you have been active 
and indefatigable in doipg as much good as was 
in your power, those to whom you have been 
kind will interest themselves for you when you 



106 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

are slandered, and strive to rescue your character 
from the venomous tooth of calumny. 

I must further observe, that if the good ac- 
tions which you perform be to serve you as a 
protecting shield against the shafts of calumny, 
they must flow from a sincere regard for your 
duty as a member of human society ; for it is 
not sufficient that we have done much good, if 
we wish to silence the voice of calumny by our 
actions ; they must originate from a pure source 
and be done with a laudable intention. Although 
you should perform the brightest deeds, yet 
they will not be sufficient to defend you against 
slander and defamation, if pride, ambition, self- 
interest, weakness, or thirst after sensual plea- 
sure guide your steps : calumny will find it an 
easy matter in that case to depreciate them, and 
to deprive you of the applause which you ex- 
pect to earn. Let therefore all your steps be 
guided by the voice of your duty ; let the good 
which you do be graced by modesty and an 
unassuming conduct, and you will blunt the 
arrows of calumny, and finally triumph over the 
malicious aggressors of your honour. 

XV. PEOPLE that, without paying any re- 
gard to age, sex or merit, consider every person 
whom they meet as a fit object for displaying 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. It>7 

the powers of their wit, and indiscriminately 
turn the words, the dress and the actions of the 
knave as well as of the honest man into ridicule, 
to excite the merriment of the company in which 
they are, arc a most intolerable sort of beings, 
and frequently embitter the hours of Social 
happiness to feeling minds. If you be con- 
scious of not possessing a sufficient share of cool- 
ness and moderation to defeat the purpose of 
these disturbers of innocent joy, you can do no 
better than to shun their company as much as 
possible. Yet as you have it not always ia 
your power to avoid the company of these 
peace-disturbing wits entirely, or to break off 
all the connexion which you already may have 
formed with people of that class, you will ex T 
pect me to point out to you such a line of con- 
duct as may enable you to render their society 
less distressing to you. 

The principal rule which I would advise you 
carefully to observe, is. to give no opportunity 
to scoffers to make you the butt of their ridi- 
cule ; for they cannot direct the batteries of 
their wanton wit against you if you do not 
encourage them either by your discourses or 
actions to attack you. Take care therefore not 
to oftcnd them, nor to expose your weak side 



108 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

in their presence. As soon as you provoke 
people of that description, hurt them in the 
slightest degree, or in any manner give occasion 
for ridicule by your actions or words, and betray 
your weakness, they will take it as a signal to 
discharge the artillery of their false wit against 
you. You must therefore take a firm resolu- 
tion to treat them with the greatest precaution, 
not to render yourself odious to them by a too 
visible coolness or incivility, by disobliging them 
or speaking ill of them in their absence, or of- 
fending their pride, and not to irritate them in 
those parts where they are apt to take fire. Be 
also always upon your guard not to speak nor 
to do anything that could expose you to ridi- 
cule. Be particularly careful not to distinguish 
yourself from your cotemporarics by a singular 
dress or awkward manners ; and accommodate 
yourself as far as is consistent with propriety, 
and the regard which you owe to yourself to 
the innocent customs of your age. Avail your- 
self of every opportunity to mix with polite 
society, to shake off that awkward bashfulness 
and perplexity which but too often overshadows 
the lustre of the brightest jewel, and frequently 
excites the laughter of ridicule against those 
who, by their intrinsic worth, arc intitled to 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 100 

claim the regard and the applause of every man 
of sense and feeling. 

It is however not sufficient only to avoid an 
opportunity to the scoffer to ridicule you ; if 
you be desirous to shield yourself against the 
wanton sallies of his merciless wit you must 
also deprive him of all courage to attack you. 
To effect this, I would advise you to display a 
certain dignity of conduct on your first meeting 
with people who are apt to ridicule others ; to 
shew them by your looks, by the tone of your 
voice and your whole deportment what they 
have to expect from you. Let your counte- 
nance always bespeak your consciousness of in- 
nate dignity while you are in their society ; re- 
frain from jesting and being familiar with them, 
and maintain your seriousness with an unshaken 
equanimity. Should the scoffer, notwithstand- 
ing this mode of conduct, which in general 
intimidates those shallow-brained wits, make an 
attempt to distress you by his ridicule, you will 
undoubtedly deprive him of the courage to make 
a second trial if you tell him plainly, with a 
certain dignity of mien and accent, that you are 
determined not to suffer yourself to be abused 
by him. But as some of my readers may think 
it rather difficult to regulate their conduct at 



110 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

all times according to these rules, and to apply 
them properly, I shall add one more which 
every intelligent being is capable of observing, 
and which is by far more important and decisive 
than those which I hsve pointed out already. 

Live as an honest mail and a useful member 
of human society ; be a tender father to your 
children, v an affectionate husband, a loyal sub- 
ject of your King, diligent and careful in the 
performance of the duties of your calling, just 
to every one, benevolent and charitable, modest, 
obliging, peaceable, polite and liberal in Social 
Life, and no scoffer will dare to attack ybti : 
and if, nevertheless, he should make an attempt 
to direct the shafts of his wit at you he will 
never be capable of wounding your honour, nor 
of hurting you materially ; but his ridicuje will 
excite the indignation of all those that know 
jt and respect your virtue. 

XVI. AVARICE is one of the meanest and 
most disgraceful passions. No meanness can 
be imagined which a miser is not capable of 
committing if his thirst for riches be excited ; 
and all nobler sensations, friendship, pity and 
benevolence are shut out of his heart if they 
be not productive of gain : nay, he denies him- 
self even the most innocent pleasures if he can- 
1 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. Ill 

not have them for nothing. He considers every 
stranger as a thief, and himself as a parasite who 
lives at the cxpence of his better self, of his 
Mammon. However in our times, when luxury 
is carried to a higher degree every day, when the 
wants of even the most sober man, who must 
live in the world and maintain a family, are so 
great ; when the price of provisions rises day 
after day, and so much depends upon the influ- 
ence of money, and the rich has a decided 
superiority over the poor ; and finally, when im- 
position and falsehood on one side, and mistrust 
and want of fellow-feeling on the other encrease 
visibly in all ranks, and therefore reliance upon 
the assistance of our fellow-citizens becomes an 
unsafe capital ; in these times it would be wrong 
in us to call every saving and prudent man a 
miser, without having inquired first into his 
situation, and the motives which excited his 
actions. 

Amongst the real misers there are also some 
who, besides the thirst after money, are ruled 
by another co-prevailing passion. These people 
accumulate, save, cheat others, and deny them- 
selves every thing that does not tend to satisfy 
that passion, whether it be lust, gluttony, am- 
bition, curiosity, gambling, or any other object. 



112 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

I have known people who would have betrayed 
for the sake of a guinea a friend, and even a 
brother or a sister, and exposed themselves to 
public infamy ; whereas they thought their mo- 
ney well applied in purchasing a single moment 
of sensual gratification at the pace of a hundred 
and more guineas. 

There are others who so ill calculate as to 
save pence and to throw away guineas. They 
love money, but do not know how to husband 
it. In order to recover the sums of which they 
have been cheated by rogues, swindlers^ ad- 
venturers and flatterers they stint their servants, 
buy the worst sort of provisions if they can save 
something by it, haggle with the industrious 
tradesman and shopkeeper about a few pence in 
a most degrading manner, and inquire eagerly 
after those places where the articles which they 
want can be had at the cheapest rate, though 
perhaps not always of the best quality. 

Finally, there are others who are liberal on 
every occasion and in general are not afraid to 
spend money ; but in one single point, on which 
they put a peculiar value, ridiculously stingy. 
My friends have frequently censured me for 
being over-parsimonious with regard to writing 
materials, and I cannot deny being subject to 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 113 

that weakness. Although I am not rich yet I 
part less reluctantly with a shilling than with a 
sheet of the best writing paper. 

If you wish to preserve the favour of avaricious 
people you will do well never to ask any thing 
of them ; yet as this cannot always be avoided, 
prudence requires you should learn to which of 
the above described classes of avaricious people 
the man belongs with whom you have to deal, 
that you may be able to regulate your conduct 
accordingly. 

With regard to the conversation with spend- 
thrifts I have only to observe, that a rational 
man ought not to suffer himself to be misled by 
their example to incur foolish expenses, and 
that it is beneath the dignity of an honest 
man to take advantage of their thoughtless 
liberality either for his own benefit or that of 
his friends. 

XVII. WE must not expect that even our 
noblest and wisest actions will always be attended 
with gratitude and success. Thisprinciple I think 
we ought to have always before our eyes if we 
wish not to grow averse from serving others, 
or become inimical to our fellow-creatures and 
dissatisfied with GOD and our fate. We should 
however be destitute of every human feeling if 

VOL. i. I 



114 PBACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

it did not vex us to see ourselves slighted by peo- 
ple whom we have served faithfully, sincerely 
and without self-interest to whom we have de- 
voted ourselves entirely and perhaps even sacri- 
ficed our own advantage, as soon as they have 
no further occasion for our assistance; or 
betrayed, abused and persecuted when they can 
obtain by their ingratitude temporal advantages, 
or gain the favour of our powerful enemies. 
This will however not deter a man who knows 
the human heart and is a warm friend of virtue 
from being generous. As I shall have an oppor- 
tunity of recurring again to this subject in two 
succeeding chapters, I shall only observe at pre- 
sent, that every good action rewards itself; yea, 
that a man of a humane and liberal disposition, 
if he know beforehand that he must not look for 
gratitude amongst men derives a new source of 
internal satisfaction from that very ingratitude, 
namely, the pleasureof being conscious of having 
done good merely from a love of his duty. He 
laments the corruption of those that are capable 
of forgetting theirbenefactor, andcontinues to be 
ready and studious to serve those that are so 
much the more in want of his assistance, the 
weaker they are and the less internal happiness 
they have in their heart. Do not therefore com- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 115 

plain of the ingratitude which you experience, 
nor reproach the ungrateful for it, but continue 
to be generous to him! Receive him again 
when he returns to you, he may grow sensible 
at last of the excellency and noblenesss of your 
conduct, and repair the injury of which he is 
guilty if not, I advise you to reflect that every 
vice punishes itself, and that the heart of the 
ungrateful wretch, and the unavoidable conse- 
quences of his meanness, will avenge you upon 
him Alas ! what a long chapter on the ingrati- 
tude of men could I write ! How many instan- 
ces of it have I experienced on the thorny path 
of the mazy labyrinths of life ! But I will be 
silent and strive to forget the degeneracy of my 
brethren. 

$ XVIII. MANY people find it absolutely 
impossible to pursue any object of their wishes 
on a strait path ; artifice, cunning and mfidious- 
ness guide them in all their undertakings, al- 
though their heart be not entirely bad. A cer- 
tain unfortunate disposition of mind, timidity 
and the influence of the occurrences of life, are 
frequently the principal causes which produce 
that character. A suspicious man for instance 
is but too apt to veil even the most innocent 
transactions in mysteriousness, to disguise him- 

i 2 



116 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

self and to conceal the real object of his pur- 
suits. A man of an ill-regulated activity and 
of too firy a temper, an artful enterprizing 
genius, who is in a situation in which he meets 
with too much uniformity and sameness, and 
finds no opportunity to unfold and display his 
talents, will attempt numerous crooked ways to 
extend his compass of activity, or to render the 
scene of action more interesting ; and in that 
case he will not be over-conscientious in the 
choice of the means which he applies to accom- 
plish his purpose. A very vain man will pro- 
ceed with a great deal of mysteriousness to con- 
ceal his weakness. A courtier who is used to 
see nothing but deceit, intrigues, cabals and 
plots, and is not accustomed to go the strait 
way, will think a life that flows along without 
intricacies very uniform and tedious, veil his 
most unimportant steps in impenetrable myste- 
riousness, and give to his most innocent transac- 
tions an enigmatical appearance. The lawyer 
who is constantly occupied with the sophistries 
of chicane, is very fond of dealing in puns and 
quibbles on every occasion. People that have 
overstrained their imagination by reading novels 
and other fantastical books, or lost their sense 
for simplicity, artless nature and truth through 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 117 

a profligate and idle life or bad company, cannot 
exist without intriguing ; and there are also a 
great number of people who do not wish half as 
ardently for an object which they can obtain in 
a regular manner as for what they expect to 
procure clandestinely and surreptitiously. Even 
the most generous and open man, particularly if 
he be young, may be tempted to have recourse 
to crooked means if we constantly treat him 
with mistrust, or with so much severity as to 
render him incapable to place any confidence 
in us. 

But whatever may have contributed to accus- 
tom a person to employ artifice and intrigues, 
the following mode of conduct is the best which 
you can adopt in your dealings with characters 
of that description. Treat them always with 
openness and candour, and show yourself by 
words and deeds a decided enemy to every thing 
that can be called artifice, intrigue and deceit ; 
and as a warm admirer of every honest man, to 
make them sensible how much they would lose 
in your eyes if ever you should surprise them on 
crooked paths. 

Display an unlimited confidence in their ho- 
nesty while they have not deceived you, and 
lead them to think that you arc incaj>able of 



118 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

believing they should ever be able to attempt 
imposing upon you. If they set any value on your 
regard they then will carefully avoid displeasing 
you. 

Be as tolerant to their weaknesses and as 
ready to pardon and to excuse their failings 
(provided they hate meditated no malicious 
trick) as will be sufficient to convince them, that 
they have no reason to fear and deceive you 
as vigorous censors. 

Do not watch their conduct as a spy nor at- 
tempt to sift them in a circuitous manner, but 
question them frankly and directly in a firm 
tone and with penetrating looks, if you want to 
obtain some elucidation which you have a right 
to demand. Should they stammer and attempt 
to elude your question, I would advise you either 
to drop the subject of your inquiries entirely, 
letting them see you wish to spare them the 
shame of imposing upon you, and to treat them 
afterwards with more coldness than usual, or to 
caution them in an amicable but serious manner 
not to disgrace themselves. 

Should they however deceive you notwith- 
standing your endeavours to prevent it, pru- 
dence bids you not to treat their insincerity 
slightly ! Display the greatest indignation at the 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 11Q 

first false step, and do not forgive it immediately. 
But if all this should not becapable of correcting 
them, should they continue to impose upon you 
you can take no better measure than punishing 
them by contempt, and letting them see you 
shall suspect all their professions and actions 
until they be entirely corrected. I must how- 
ever observe, that a person who is once accus- 
tomed to artifice and crooked dealings very 
seldom returns to the path of truth and can- 
dour. 

The above rules are also applicable in the 
treatment of liars. 

XIX. THOSE that commonly are called 
boasters, braggers and puffers are of a different 
species. They have no intention to deceive 
actually, but invent stories or exaggerate real 
facts for no other purpose than to show them- 
selves more to advantage and attract the notice 
of others; to induce others to form a high opi- 
nion of their talents and merits ; to excite asto- 
nishment by the relation of wonderful incidents, 
or to be regarded as agreeable and chearful com- 
panions; and if once they have acquired a habit 
of adorning and exaggerating an incident, a 
simile or a sentence at the expence of truth, they 
iometimes believe their own bragging and 



12O PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

puffing and view all objects through a micro- 
scope. 

The relations and descriptions of such puffing 
boasters are sometimes entertaining enough ; 
and if we be once acquainted with their emble- 
matical language we know how much we have 
to believe. 

Yet if they should carry their exaggerations 
too far, I would advise you either to entangle 
them in their own net by a number of questions 
about the minutest circumstances, so as to ren- 
der them unable to advance or to retreat and 
thus put them to the blush, or to return them 
for every gasconade another still more comical 
and exaggerated, and thus convince them 
that you are not so silly as to believe them; or 
to furl the sails of conversation suddenly as soon 
as they begin to puff, which if repeated fre- 
quently generally will make them more cau- 
tious. 

XX. IMPUDENT, idle and intriguing people, 
farasites and flatterers ought to be kept at a 
proper distance. You will do well not to be 
too familiar with them, and to let them know 
by a civil but cool and serious treatment that 
their society and familiarity is not agreeable to 
you. Parasites who seek our company or> ac- 



OF SOCIAL LIPB. 

count of our table, will not trouble us for any 
length of time with their intrusion if we never ask 
them to eat or to drink with us; but against 
flatterers particularly those of a finer class, we 
ought to be more on our guard for the sake of 
our own moral character. They spoil our heart 
entirely if we accustom our ear to listen to their 
poisonous discourses: we then want constantly 
to be tickled, are disgusted with the voice of 
truth, and neglect and slight our most faithful 
and best friends, who are desirous to make us 
sensible of our defects and errors. If you wish 
not to fall thus deeply, arm yourself with indif- 
ference againt the baneful allurements of flat- 
tery. Shun the flatterer as you would flee from 
a venomous serpent. This is however not so 
easy to be done as you perhaps may think. 
Some people have a manner of saying flatteries 
which appear to be just their reverse. The art- 
ful flatterer that has explored your blind side 
will not applaud always, if he know that you 
have too much sense not to see the danger 
that lurks beneath the coarser snares of flat- 
tery, but will sometimes rather censure you. He 
will for instance, tell you " that he cannot com- 
prehend how a noble-minded and wise man like 
you, could forget himself so much for a mo- 



122 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

ment ; he had thought that this could happen 
only to ordinary people like himself." If you 
be an authour he will censure defects in your 
writings, which at first sight must appear trifling 
to you, and only serve him to applaud those 
passages of which he knows you to be proud 
with so much the more impudence. He will 
discover weaknesses, and censure you with a 
pretended zeal for defects that flatter your 
vanity. He will for instance call you a misan- 
thrope if you wish to be famous for your solitary 
manner of life, and charge you with being in- 
triguing if you be desirous to appear as a 
consummate courtier. In this manner he will 
lead you imperceptibly to think that he is an 
impartial lover of truth; you will greedily 
swallow his sweet poison, and in your infatua- 
tion open your heart and purse to the artful de- 
ceiver. 

XXI. I SHALL now speak of the conduct 
which we ought to observe with regard to Vil- 
lains: that is, people whose heart has been de- 
praved so much by a neglected education, bad 
company or other causes, as to exhibit no ves- 
tige of its former good disposition. 

It is obvious that we must avoid if possible all 
connexions with people of this description, if we 
1 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 123 

really are anxious to preserve our peace of mind 
and have our moral improvement at heart. Al- 
though a man of firm principles will not easily 
be spoiled in their company, yet he may accus- 
tom himself gradually to the sight of villanies, 
and thus lose that aversion from every thing 
that is mean, which frequently is alone sufficient 
to preserve us from falling in moments of temp- 
tation. We are however but too often necessi- 
tated by our situation in life to live in the midst 
of villains, and to transact business jointly with 
them, and in that case it will be necessary not 
to lose sight of certain rules of prudence. 

If you distinguish yourself by superiour ta- 
lents and a conspicuous excellence of heart, you 
have just reason to apprehend that people of bad 
principles and morals will attempt to disturb 
your peace of mind and to vex you. There ex- 
ists an eternal league between villains and block- 
heads against all good and sensible people, such 
an intimate connexion as enables them to know 
each other among the rest of mankind, a kind 
of fraternity which renders them willing to go 
hand-in-hand, although they should be ever so 
much separated by other circumstances, as soon 
as an opportunity offers to persecute and to 
trample upon real merit. No kind of precau- 



124 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

tion and reserve can avail anything against 
that confederation ; you will rely in vain upon 
your openness and innocence, in vain proceed 
^ith moderation and lenity, conceal your me- 
rits and attempt to screen yourself by the ap- 
pearance of mediocrity, if you really be at 
man of sense and a votary of virtue. No one 
discovers the excellencies which you possess 
easier than those that are totally destitute of 
these good qualities ; no one does secretly 
more justice to merit than a villain ; but he 
trembles at it like satan at the gospel, and leaves 
no stone unturned to oppose it. That nume- 
rous confederation of villains and blockheads will 
teaze you incessantly, attack your honour, now 
speak ambiguously of you, and now with undis- 
guised malignity, and maliciously misrepresent 
your most innocent words and actions. 

But be not frightened at it although you 
should be actually distressed for some time by 
knaves and villains, yet the probity and the 
consequences of your actions will finally con- 
quer, and your enemies be entrapt in their own 
snares. Besides rogues and villains are unani- 
mous only while no manly firmness and resolu- 
tion is required, and while they can fight in the 
dark, but disperse as soon as they are exposed to 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 125 

the light. Pursue therefore firmly the strait 
path which your duty points out to you. Never 
indulge yourself with the application of crooked 
means, never employ artifice to defeat roguery, 
never have recourse to intrigues to counteract 
cabals, and never associate with villains against 
villains. Act generously ! Ill treatment and 
suspision if carried too far can make a complete 
villain of a person who is only half a rogue ; 
whereas generosity may sometimes correct a 
hardened knave and render him attentive to 
the voice of his conscience. You will however 
do well to make him sensible that your conduct 
before him is not regulated by fear, but solely 
by voluntary generosity. Let him feel that 
when matters are carried too far, and the in- 
dignation of a resolute and honest man breaks 
loose, the wise and courageous votary of virtue 
in the dust is more to be dreaded than a rogue 
bedecked with purple ; that a noble mind, that 
virtue, prudence and spirit render a man more 
powerful than a knave is at the head of an army 
of vile hirelings. What has a man to fear who 
has left nothing else at stake than what no mor- 
tal can wrest from him ? and how little can a 
cowardly sultan, an unjust despot, who constantly 
carries an enemy with him in his bosom that 
3 



126 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

goads him incessantly ! how little, I say, can such 
a contemptible being prevail in the moment of 
extreme and despairing necessity against the 
meanest of his subjects, who is supported in the 
conflict by the firmest allies, an unpolluted 
heart, a sound understanding, an undaunted 
spirit and a pair of sinewy arms ? 

It is impossible to render ourselves beloved by 
some people, and in that case it will be at least 
some advantage to be dreaded by them. 

There are others that will avail themselves of 
every opportunity to betray us into a certain con- 
fidence and familiarity in order to obtain arms 
against us, with which they threaten to assail us 
when we refuse to obey their imperious dictates. 
Prudence requires we should guard against such 
dangerous persons as much as possible. 

Make presents to the person whom you have 
reason to suspect of being inclined to rob you, 
if you think generosity can make any im- 
pression upon his heart. 

Encourage and honour people that display an 
active propensity to do good. Do not ruin their 
credit if you possibly can avoid it. There are 
people who speak extremely well but are knaves 
in their actions, highly inconsequent, thought- 
less and passionate. Do not unmask them if 



OP SOCIAL LIPB. 177 

the consequences of their disposition do not 
render it absolutely necessary. They do at least 
some good by their discourses, which will remain 
undone if you render them suspected of dupli- 
city. They ought to be sent from place to 
place to promote good purposes, but never to 
stay long in one place lest they should expose 
themselves, and by their example destroy the 
good effects of their doctrines. 

XXII. PEOPLE that are too modest and 
timid ought to be encouraged and inspired 
with confidence in themselves. Too much 
timidity is as unmanly as impudence and arro- 
gance are despicable. A man of a noble dispo- 
sition ought to be sensible of his worth, and as 
just to himself as he is to others. Yet a modest 
man is offended by too much praise, and too 
visible marks of distinction : display, therefore, 
the regard which you have for him less by 
words than by actions, which are the best proofs 
of real affection. 

XXIII. IMPRUDENT and talkative people 
ought, naturally, not to be trusted with secret?. 
It would indeed be much better if there ex- 
isted no secrets at all, if we could always act 
openly and frankly, and let ever)- one see the 
most secret thoughts of our heart ; it would be 



128 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

much better if men thought and uttered no- 
thing but what every one might know : yet as 
this is not always possible, particularly with 
people who arc in public offices and entrusted 
with the secrets of others, we must therefore be 
cautious to whom we communicate our secrets. 

There are people who are utterly incapable 
of keeping a secret. Their running anxiously 
from place to place, like a hen that is going to 
lay an egg, is a certain indication that they 
have some secret to disclose, and suffer much 
uneasiness till they have communicated it to 
another gossip. Others are indeed not disin- 
clined to keep the secrets which have been en- 
trusted to them, but wanting prudence betray 
them involuntarily by their looks, hints and 
signs ; or from want of firmness are incapable 
to resist importunate inquirers, or to have too 
good an opinion of the discretion and probity 
of others, which frequently makes them commit 
a breach of secresy. To people of this class 
you cannot be too reserved. 

Curious people, who make it their business to 
explore the private concerns of others may be 
treated in a different manner, as circumstances 
require. If you wish to check their prying 
curiosity at once, and to deter them from making 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 

any further attempts to meddle with your 
private concerns, to act the part of eaves- 
droppers, to watch your steps and to pry into 
your plans and transactions, you can take no 
surer step than to declare to them with energy 
and spirit, that you are determined to resist 
their impertinent intrusion, and to resent the 
least attempt of theirs to meddle with your af- 
fairs. Should you, however, wish to divert 
yourself at the expence of their prying dispo- 
sition, you may amuse their curiosity by direct- 
ing it to such a number of trifles as will keep 
them constantly employed, and leave them no 
time to trouble themselves about matters which 
you are desirous of concealing from them. 

Heedless and forgetful people are unfit for any 
business that requires punctuality. Young per- 
sons may sometimes be weaned from this defect, 
and trained to keep their thoughts together. 
Many that are forgetful and heedless from a 
lively temper, will shake off that weakness when 
they grow older and more sedate. Others af- 
fect to be thoughtless, because they imagine 
that it gives them an appearance of learning. 
Fools of that sort deserve to be pitied ; and I 
would advise you to take no notice of their 
studied distraction. They ought to be treated 

VOL. i. K 



ISO PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

like those that pretend being nervous or sickly 
to create interest. But if you be connected 
with people who really have a short memory, you 
will do well to advise them to write down what- 
ever they wish to retain, and to peruse these 
memorandums frequently ; for nothing is more 
disagreeable than to be connected with people 
who promise to execute business of importance 
for us, to rely upon their word, and to find after- 
wards that they do not recollect a syllable of it. 

I must observe on this occasion, that it is 
wrong to be provoked or vexed if people who 
are naturally inclined to be heedless and dis- 
tracted, sometimes neglect to shew us the civi- 
lity and attention which we have a right to ex- 
pect, as this is done unintentionally, and with- 
out any view to offend us. 

XXIV. THERE is a description of people who 
are commonly called whimsical, (difficult). They 
are not always of a vicious temper, nor at all times 
morose and quarrelsome, yet generally hard to 
be pleased. They have accustomed themselves, 
for instance, to a pedantic regularity, the rules 
of which are not so familiar to their friends and 
connexions as to themselves ; we may therefore 
easily happen to offend them, by putting, for 
example;, a chair in their apartments in a wrong 



OP SOCIAL tlEfi. 131 

place j or they are addicted to certain oddities, 
and for instance, dress, speak, or write in a pe- 
culiar manner singularities to which we must 
accommodate ourselves if we wish to preserve 
their good opinion. One would think that 
people of sense ought to be above such trifles ; 
yet we frequently meet with men who in other 
respects betray no small degree of sound judg- 
ment and equity, but in these or similar points 
are uncommonly difficult. If the good opinion 
of people of that description be of any conse- 
quence to you, I advise you to accommodate 
yourself to their singularities as far as is con- 
sistent with honour and probity, and to please 
them in matters of such a trifling nature. But 
even if you should not be connected with them, 
nor care for their favour, you ought nevertheless 
not to ridicule nor distress them on account 
of their peculiarities, if they be respectable cha- 
racters; for every one of us has his failings, 
which we must tolerate reciprocally with fra- 
ternal indulgence. 

People who think it an honour to distinguish 
themselves -from others by the peculiarity of 
their conduct in unimportant matters, not be- 
cause they are convinced of acting with more 
propriety than the rest, but chiefly because they 
K 2 



132 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

are determined to differ from their cotempo- 
raries in their behaviour, are called singular. 
They are pleased to see that their singularity is 
taken notice of; and a sensible man that is con- 
nected with such people ought carefully to 
examine whether their singularities are of an 
innocent nature, and whether they deserve to 
be spared for other considerations, that he may 
be able to regulate his conduct towards them 
according to reason and the precepts of toler- 
ance. 

As for people who are ruled by humours, and 
to-day will receive you with the greatest kind- 
ness and good nature, and to-morrow perhaps 
treat you with a chilling coldness, I advise you 
to take no notice of the continual ebb and tide 
of their fancies, but always treat them in the 
same cautious manner; should however their 
humorous conduct proceed from secret suffer- 
ings they are in titled to your compassion. 

XXV. STUPID people who are sensible of 
their weakness, suffer themselves to be guided 
by men of sense and judgment, and by a natu- 
rally good, benevolent and gentle disposition are 
easily prompted to do good ; but when with dif- 
ficulty persuaded to turn bad, ought not to be 
despised. All men cannot possess an elevated 
1 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 133 

mind, and the world would be badly off if all were 
alike. There must be a greater number of subal- 
tern geniuses than of high-spirited people in this 
world, unless all are to live in a continual warfare. 
It cannot indeed be denied that a certain superior 
degree of virtue which requires mental strength, 
energy, firmness and a clear judgment, isincon- 
sistentwith weakness of understanding; but this 
is not absolutely necessary. If the happiness of 
mankind be but promoted, and the weaker class 
suffer themselves to be made instrumental to it, 
then are they more useful members of society 
than all eccentric geniuses with their indefati- 
gable and wild activity. 

It is however extremely disagreeable and in- 
supportable to be connected with a blockhead 
that imagines himself a demi-god, with a vain, 
obstinate and suspicious fool, a spoiled and 
proud dunce that thinks himself capable to rule 
countries and nations when he cannot govern 
himself. As I shall havefrequent opportunities in 
the course of this work to point out the parti- 
cular rules which we must observe should we be 
connected with such conceited fools, I shall refrain 
mentioning them here to avoid useless repetition. 

I must observe on this occasion, that we fre- 
quently commit the greatest injustice by be- 



134 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

stowing the epithets of weak, stupid, insensible 
and ignorant, upon people who in fact arc quite 
the reverse. Every one posseses not the gift of 
displaying his ideas and sentiments to advantage. 
We ought therefore to judge of people chiefly 
by their actions ; but in doing this we must 
never omit to reflect upon their situation, and 
the opportunities which they had or had not to 
distinguish themselves. We very seldom con- 
sider that a man has already great merit if he 
do no wrong, and that the sum of negative 
good frequently contributes more to general 
happiness than the long life of an active man, 
whose violent passions are continually at war 
with his great and noble views. Learning, 
mental accomplishments and plain sense are 
besides very different things. People of a cer- 
tain education and politure are generally guided 
by a certain tone that prevails in the society 
which they frequent, and we are but too apt to 
confound principles which rest upon that tone 
with the invariable dictates of pure wisdom. 
We are used to shape our ideas after that arbi- 
trary standard, or rather to repeat words whose 
ambiguous sense we scarcely should be capable 
of explaining to a raw child of nature, and thus 
are led to mistake for a blockhead every one 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 133 

that is not initiated into the nonsensical myste- 
ries of our circle, and bluntly speaks as he 
thinks. A man may possess a large share of 
plain sense and a high degree of erudition, and 
yet act a very sorry part in one of our elegant 
and fashionable circles, because he is unac- 
quainted with the subjects that are the common 
topicks of conversation in these assemblies, which 
are but too often beneath the notice of a man who 
is sensible of his intrinsic dignity, and ashamed 
to speak nonsense ; or he has too much con- 
scientiousness and veneration for candour, truth 
and virtue to be capable of uttering unmeaning 
flatteries in order to display his wit- at the ex- 
pence of decency. You would therefore wrong 
him very much were you to set him down for a 
stupid blockhead on account of his silence, or 
the timidity and awkwardness which he displays 
when he cannot avoid joining in a conversation 
for which he has no relish. Do not therefore 
despise people of this cast, nor distress them by 
ridicule ; for they are deserving of your regard ; 
consider that you would be as awkwardly situ- 
ated in a circle of people of their manner of 
thinking as they are in your company, and 
appear equally stupid and ignorant to them as 
they appear to you ! 



13(5 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

If we be connected with good-natured but 
weak people, it will be prudent in us to endea- 
vour to collect a circle of virtuous friends 
around them, who will not abuse their weakness 
and prompt them to deeds which are unworthy 
a benevolent heart. 

There are people who can refuse nothing, 
at least not orally ; and thence it happens 
they promise more than they can perform, give 
more, and take more trouble upon themselves 
for others than in justice they ought to do, 
merely because they 'are afraid to give pain to 
any one, or to appear disinclined to serve 
others. Others are so credulous as to trust 
every one, sacrifice themselves for every one, 
and mistake every person for a sincere friend 
that has the appearance of an honest and a 
benevolent man. Others are not capable of 
asking anything for themselves, although they 
should thus be debarred from the attainment of 
advantages to which they have the justest claims. 
It would be needless to exhibit how much all 
these weak peopleareabused, how much the good 
nature and obliging disposition of the former is 
intruded upon, and how often impudence wrests 
every advantage from the latter, because they 
have not courage to defend the justness of 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 137 

their claims. Do not abuse the weakness of 
any person, nor attempt to obtain surreptitiously 
advantages, presents or assistance which you 
cannot demand from people of the above class 
with the strictest justice and without distressing 
them. Endeavour also to prevent others from 
abusing them in a similar manner. Encourage 
the timid ; interfere in his behalf; speak for 
him when his weakness prevents him speaking 
for himself, and assist him whenever he wants 
your assistance. 

Some people are so weak as to abandon 
themselves entirely to a certain favourite pro- 
pensity. People of this class speak of nothing 
with so much pleasure as of their favourite ob- 
ject ; all their ideas revolve constantly round 
that point, and they miss no opportunity to 
introduce it on every occasion; their hobby- 
horse may be a noble passion or not, may con- 
sist in a predilection for hunting, horses and 
hounds, or for dancingand music, pain ting, prints 
or any other particular. They forget in that 
case that the person to whom they are speaking 
perhaps knows nothing at all of their favourite 
object, nor do they wish he should have much 
knowledge of it, if he but patiently listen to 
them, or admire their darling and seem to 



138 PRACTICAL, PHILOSOPHY 

be delighted with it. Who could be so cruel as 
not to indulge an honest and sensible man in so 
trifling a pleasure ? I advise you particularly 
to notice tire innocent hobby-horses of the 
Great with whom you wish to ingratiate your- 
self; for a lash given to this favourite f is more 
painfully felt,' as Tristram Shandy observes, 
' than a blow which the rider receives.' 

XXVI. IT is easy and pleasant to converse 
\vith cheerful and lively people who are animated 
\vith real good humour ; I say they must be 
animated with real good humour ; their cheer- 
fulness must flow from the heart, must not 
consist in idle jesting, nor in hunting after 
witticisms. A man who can laugh from the 
bottom of his heart and abandon himself to the 
ebullitions of jocundity, cannot be thoroughly 
bad. Malice and cunning render us serious, 
pensive and close ; but a man who can laugh 
heartily is not dangerous. From this however 
we must not infer that every person who is not 
of a cheerful temper is bent on mischief. 

The disposition of our mind depends upon 
our temper as well as on our health, and on 
internal and external relations. Genuine cheer- 
fulness usually is catching, and this epidemy of 
hilarity as I may call it is so highly beneficent, 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 13Q 

we feel so unspeakably happy in laughing away 
all the troubles of this world, that I cannot 
exhort you too pressingly to cheer up your 
mind, and to devote at least a few hours every 
week to innocent hilarity. 

It is however difficult not to fall into a satiri- 
cal tone when we are in a jovial disposition and 
give the reins to our wit. What can afford us 
more matter for laughing than the numerous 
follies of men ? And when we laugh at these 
follies it is almost unavoidable not to laugh at 
the fools who commit them, in which case our 
merriment may produce very disagreeable and 
dangerous consequences. 

When our ridiculing jokes meet with ap- 
plause we are commonlv tempted to give qur 
wit a keener edge ; while others perhaps deprived 
of such opportunity would be in want of 
matter for a lively conversation, are misled by 
our example to explore with additional assiduity 
the defects of their neighbours, the consequences 
of which are partly known but too well, and 
partly have been touched upon in the preceding 
chapter. I would therefore advise you to be 
upon your guard in conversing with satirical 
people. I do not however mean to infer that 
you ought to be afraid of their cutting tongue, 



I4O PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

for this would afford them just ground for 
suspecting you to be pusillanimous in the 
highest degree ; but wish only to exhort you 
not to suffer yourself to be seduced to join in 
their satirical abuse, thereby to hurt yourself and 
others and to depart from the spirit of toleration. 
Do not therefore applaud too much satirical 
people, nor encourage their propensity to dis- 
play their wit at the expence of others, and do 
not laugh when they lampoon and ridicule their 
neighbours ! 

$ XXVII. DRUNKARDS, Voluptuaries and all 
votaries of vice in general you ought to shun, 
and if possible to avoid their Society ; yet if you 
should not always be able to do it, you cannot be 
too careful to watch over your innocence lest 
it should be infected by their example. This 
however is not sufficient ; it is also your duty not 
to indulge them in their excesses, how pleasing 
soever the shape may be in which they appear, 
but to shew as far as prudence permits that you 
have an unconquerable aversion against them, 
and to be particularly careful never to join in 
smutty discourses. 

We see frequently that elegant rakes are 
uncommonly well received in the fashionable 
circles as they are called ; and but too often 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. ^ 141 

experience in many societies, particularly in such 
as consist entirely of males, that the conversa- 
tion turns upon obscene ambiguities, which 
inflame the imagination of young people and 
spread farther the corruption of morals. An 
honest man ought not to contribute the least 
thing in the world to this general corruption of 
morals ; he rather is bound to display his aver- 
sion from it in the strongest manner, without 
shewing any respect of persons ; and if he can- 
not correct people who walk on the path of 
vice by amicable admonitions, and by directing 
their activity to nobler objects, at least to 
convince them that he values decency and vir- 
tue, and that innocence must be respected in 
his presence. 

^ XXVII 1. ENTHUSIASTICAL, romantic and 
eccentrical people live and move in a world of 
fancies, and are sworn enemies to cool reflection. 
Fashionable readings, novels, plays, secret 
societies, want of real and scientific knowledge 
and idleness infect a great number of our 
modern youth with this disease ; we however 
also frequently meet with hoary enthusiasts. 
They are constantly bent upon the unnatural 
and supernatural ; despise the good that is 
within their reach to pursue distant phantasms ; 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

neglect what is useful and necessary to form 
plans for the attainment of what is not needful ; 
abandon themselves to idleness when it is their 
duty to exert themselves, in order to interfere in 
matters that do not concern them ; want to 
reform the world and neglect their own domestic 
affairs; deem important subjects trifling and 
are enraptured with absurdities ; do not com- 
prehend what is plain and preach up incompre- 
hensible doctrines. You will in vain attempt 
to convert them by arguments of sound reason ; 
for they will despise you as one of the common 
herd, tax you with want of feeling and indif- 
ference to great and noble objects, pity you for 
your wisdom, and rather connect themselves 
with fools of their own way of thinking than 
associate with you. If therefore you are really 
desirous to convince such an enthusiast of some 
truth or to gain credit with him, your discourses 
must be warm and animated, and you must 
speak in behalf of sound reason with as much 
fervour as he displays in defending his follies. 

It is however very difficult to reform such 
people, and it will frequently be best to leave it 
to time to cure them of their folly. Yet enthu- 
siasm is frequently catching. If therefore you 
have a lively imagination, and are not quite 



OP SOCIAL LIFE, 143 

certain of being able to keep it under the con- 
troul of your understanding, I advise you to 
be upon your guard in conversing with enthu- 
siasts of any kind. In our century, in which 
the rage for secret associations has acquired an 
almost general ascendancy over mankind, means 
have even been found to bring all sorts of re- 
ligious, theosophic, chemical and political en- 
thusiasm into regular systems. I forbear to 
decide which of these sorts of enthusiasm is 
the most pernicious ; yet I think that which 
presumes to reform the world is pregnant with 
inconceivable mischief; I have so much the 
more reason to believe it firmly, as this sort of 
systematic enthusiasm can produce the greatest 
confusion in the State, and generally has the most 
imposing appearance ; whereas the rest soon be- 
come tiresome and are capable of charming only 
perverted and inferior geniusses for a length of 
time. I would therefore advise you to regard 
in your conversation with the apostles of such 
systems, the words happiness of the world 
liberty equality rights of men euk'tvatien 
general mental illumination reform spirit of 
cosmopolitism and the like, merely as allure- 
ments, or at most as well-meant empty words 
with which these peoples amuse themselves like 



144 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

school-boys with the oratorical figures and 
tropes which they must apply in their meagre 
exercises. 

I advise you in general to let eccentrical 
people pursue their course at pleasure, while 
they are not yet perfectly qualified for the mad- 
house; for the world is large enough to contain 
a great number of fools. 

$ XXIX. I now beg leave to say a few words 
concerning devotees, pwitam and hypocrites. 

People whose sentiments correspond with 
their external zeal for religion, whose warmth 
for piety and divine worship, and whose attach- 
ment to the rites of that church whose tenets 
they profess, flow from the heart, have the 
strongest claim to our regard. Although their 
conduct should be guided rather by pious sen- 
timents than by the light of reason ; although 
their religious feelings should proceed from a 
heated imagination, and their attachment to 
certain ceremonies, rites and systems be car- 
ried to a higher pitch than is consistent with 
sound reason, yet they deserve toleration, 
forbearance and fraternal love, provided they 
be honest men and practical Christians. But 
an hypocritical villain that wears the mask of 
sanctity, meekness and religion, and is a volup- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 145 

tuouS seducer of innocence, a malicious calum- 
niator, or a fanatical persecutor, deserves to be 
branded with ignominy. It is however not diffi- 
cult to distinguish these two sorts of people. 
A man who is really pious is open, candid, 
peaceable and cheerful, not ov$r civil nor too 
humble, but benevolent, simple and easy in 
conversation ; he is indulgent, gentle, meek 
and just to every one ; talks not much of 
religious subjects, except in the circle of his 
intimate friends ; the hypocrite, on the con- 
trary, is accustomed to wheedle, to sneak and 
to flatter, is always upon his guard, a slave of 
the great and wealthy, an adherer of the 
prevailing party, a friend of the happy, but 
never a disinterested defender of the deserted. 
He talks constantly of honesty and religion, 
gives generally large alms, and performs the 
duties of Christian charity in an ostentatious 
manner ; excuses the faults of others in such a 
manner as makes them appear to be ten times 
more glaring than they really are. Be careful 
to form no connexion whatever with people of 
this description ! Shun them as much as possi- 
ble ! Do not offend nor hurt them if your 
peace and happiness be dear to you ! 

People who believe without any sufficient 
VOL. i. l> 



146 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

ground in certain doctrines and obligations, or in 
supernatural causes, agencies and apparitions, 
who for instance believe that GOD is an irascible 
and revengeful Being, that those who are here- 
tics in their opinion ought to be deprived of all 
civil privileges, that the sign of the cross has a 
peculiar and supernatural effect, that ghosts and 
superiour beings can appear to men, &c. &c. &c. 
and who regard these objects of their faith as 
highly sacred and inviolable are called sztpersfi- 
tious. It is a certain criterion of superstition to 
believe too much, i. e. more than sound reason 
warrants. People who are given to superstition 
do not therefore listen to the voice of reason, but 
are deaf to sober arguments and believe the most 
contradictory tenets. They never give up an 
opinion which they have once adopted, how ab- 
surd and incomprehensible soever it may be, 
and the firmness of their faith is founded merely 
on habit. They have heard for instance a cer- 
tain tenet asserted in their ;ytouth, it was recom- 
mended to them as a religious truth, and they 
have believed in it for many years; or something 
was inculcated into their mind as an invariable 
duty and obligation ; or they were taught to be- 
lieve that certain invisible powers produce cer- 
tain effects: and now they continue to adhere 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 147 

to that opinion, because they have accustomed 
themselves so much to believe it that the con- 
trary of it appears to them a daring violation of 
truth, which they are bound to abhor or to hate : 
and as reason opposes to their belief incontro- 
vertible doubts, their commodiousness leads 
them to think that the voice of reason ought 
not to be listened to in matters of faith. 

Superstition undoubtedly is a source of nume- 
rous evils and productive of great misery; and 
it is extremely painful and distressing for every 
individual to be connected with its votaries: for 
the superstitious abhors every one that is of a 
different opinion. He applies to those that dif- 
fer from him in their belief certain names which 
encrease this aversion, because he connects with 
them the idea of people that are hateful to the 
Godhead. He therefore reposes no confidence 
in them, and cannot persuade himself to love 
them. He thinks it frequently a sin to have any 
connexion with them, and if he had it in his 
power he is also but too often inclined to per- 
secute them. He is averse from every thing 
tending to disturb his faith. He regards every 
person who opposes his notions by arguments of 
sound reason as his enemy. He is therefore an 
enemy to all mental illumination though he 

L2 



148 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

deny to hate it ; and opposes all persons and 
means that promote it. He is for this reason 
very seldom a firm friend, a good citizen and 
subject. We must at least constantly appre- 
hend that he will spare neither his sovereign nor 
his father, nor his fellow-citizen, if any of' his 
tenets should excite him to persecute a person 
who differs from him in faith. 

My readers will easily comprehend that it is 
difficult to converse with such people, and still 
more difficult to preserve our peace and happi- 
ness in their society, without violating the love 
which we owe to all men, how corrupt and 
erring soever they be. If you wish to be capa- 
ble of exercising the duties of this general love 
to the superstitious, you need but to comprehend 
that his errors deserve rather to awaken your 
pity than sensations of hatred and aversion, on 
account of their origin : For if you carefully 
inquire how they crept into his soul, you will 
find that generally it is no fault of his to be in- 
fected with them. Infantine and juvenile in- 
struction, the example of parents, the zeal of 
teachers and governors, habit, want of a suf- 
ficient knowledge of the means of mental illu- 
mination, &c. &c. &c. are frequently the sole 
and inevitable causes of superstition. Reflect 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 1 !() 

only upon your own experience and you will 
be sensible of the truth of this assertion. Do 
you not find that children are very willing to 
believe whatever their parents or instructors tell 
them of subjects of which they can have no sen- 
sible perception ? If they for instance tell them 
from their infantine years, that all the objects 
which they see as well as themselves were crea- 
ted by a good GOD ; that he is omnipresent, 
preserves, blesses and loves all animated beings, 
though he cannot be seen, &c. &c. &c. ; if all 
those that are about them say and believe the 
same and repeat it frequently with serious looks, 
and if they at the same time tell them with 
marks of horror, that there are people who do 
not believe in a Supreme Being; do you think 
that it will be possible these children should not 

4t * 

believe firmly in the existence of GOD ? andabhor 
all those as wicked people or fools who are of a 
contrary opinion ? If errors be inculcated into 
their ductile mind in the same manner they will 
impress themselves as deeply upon their soul as 
truth, and gradually become the most invincible 
prejudice. What merit is it therefore in an 
adult person to have a firm conviction of truth ? 
and how can it be imputed to another as a fault, 
with the least colour of justice, if he be preju- 



150 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

diced for errors which have been instilled into 
his mind in his youth by those that had the di- 
rection of his education? You will perhaps object 
that such a person ought to examine his erro- 
neous notions when he has attained to years of 
discretion. But how can a person do. this 
without being actuated by some motive or 
other? And what motive can a person have to 
suspect the truth of a doctrine of which he is as 
firmly convinced as he is of the reality of his ex- 
istence ? Is it not natural that a person who is to 
examine a doctrine which he believes, should first 
think it possible that it may be erroneous ? But 
if he think it impossible he cannot be reason- 
ably expected to examine it. From this it ap- 
pears that the superstition of many people is 
very excusable, and that those who are infected 
with it have a just claim to our forbearance. 
It would therefore be as unjust and inhumane to 
hate a man for his superstition as it would be to 
hate an other because he is infected with some 
constitutional disease. The superstitious is 
therefore justly intitled to compassion, and we 
ought to tolerate him with fraternal love. 

It is your duty to spare his weak side, and to 
avoid as much as possible introducing discourses 
which may give him pain. If you be desirous 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 151 

to correct the errors of one of your superstitious 
brethren you ought to do it with modesty. If 
you wish to succeed you must not declare di- 
rectly his opinion to be erroneous. The surest 
way of convincing him will be to start amicable 
objections to his ideas, and to lead him to think 
that you wish to be better informed by him. 
Request him to refute your doubts, and he will 
afford you a natural opportunity to point out the 
weakness of his arguments; but should he ne- 
vertheless remain stubborn and perhaps grow in- 
solent, your own sense of equity will tell you 
that it is not becoming a wise man to abuse a 
person, because he is incapable to comprehend 
truth. Endeavour to gain his confidence by 
doing justice to the zeal with which he defends 
his opinion, and by convincing him that you do 
ifot differ from him with regard to the essential 
points of religion, and that those tenets in which 
you do not agree with him are not materially 
connected v/ith virtue and piety. When you 
have gained his confidence you must not attack* 
his superstition directly but indirectly; for if you \ 
tell him plainly that the tenets for which he eri- 
tertains the highest regard be false, he will be 
terrified and abhor you as a dangerous man. All 
religious superstition is founded in part on tho 



152 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

idea, that the tenets which its vgtaries have 
adopted are indispensably necessary for obtaining 
the favour of the Supreme Being and eternal 
happiness, and partly on contempt of reason. 
Endeavour therefore to convince the supersti- 
tious that Reason is the principal gift of GOD, 
and that we must account to the Supreme Being 
for our neglecting the use of it; that without 
the assistance of its light we should be incapa- 
ble of understanding even revelation, and that 
mankind owes to its heavenlyinfluence the great- 
est blessings. You then may proceed farther, 
and prove to him that his tenets are not indis^ 
pensably necessary for obtaining the favour of 
GOD and eternal happiness; that GOD will nei- 
ther reward nor punish men for their faith, but 
only for their works, &c. &c. &c. This will 
mitigate the anxious obstinacy with which he 
defends his superstitious opinions; and when he 
begins to comprehend that people who differ 
from him in faith may also be good men, and 
to value reason properly, you may safely 
venture to communicate your arguments mo- 
destly to him. But I must caution you to do 
it always when he is cool and when you are 
without witnesses, and you will certainly be 
capable of removing Jiis errors, or at least render 
3 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 153 

-them less burdensome and distressing to your- 
self. 

XXXI. DEISTS, Freethinkers and Sctjfen 
of religion of the common class are generally 
not more tolerant than their antipodes, the de- 
votees. A man who is so unfortunate as not to 
be capable of convincing himself of the truth, 
the sanctity and necessity of the Christian Reli- 
gion deserves ^>//x, because he is destitute of a 
very essential happiness, and of a powerful com- 
fort in life and death. He deserves more than 
pity; he has a just claim to our regard and love 
if he perform as well as he can his duties as a 
man and a citizen, and disturb no one in his 
belief; but if a person be a scoffer of religion 
rather from depravity of heart than from per- 
verseness of understanding, or only pretends to 
hold religion in contempt, hunts after proselytes, 
and attacks publicly with hacknied witticisms 
that doctrine upon which millions found their 
only hope, their temporal and eternal happiness; 
if he persecute, despise, censure and brand with 
the name of a hypocrite every one that differs 
from him in opinion, such a depraved fool de- 
serves to be treated with contempt. 

XXXII. OF the manner in which melan- 
choly people, lunatics and madmen should be 



154 PKACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

treated I can say but very little, as I do not 
possess sufficient medical knowledge to be able 
to point out the best method. This subject 
properly belongs to the department of the philo- 
sophical physician, and besides would take up 
too much room in this little work. I shall 
therefore give only a few hints concerning this 
point. 

It appears to me to be a matter of the last 
importance with regard to people that are afflic- 
ted with mental distempers, to find out the pri- 
mary source of their disease, and to ascertain 
whether it has been occasioned by a disorder in 
particular organs of the body, or by a peculiar 
disposition of the mind, violent passions or mis- 
fortunes. For that purpose you must observe 
what objects particularly occupy their imagina- 
tion while they are raving or disordered, as well 
as after the paroxysm has subsided ; and likewise 
on what their fancy chiefly broods: it then will 
appear that it frequently is possible to cure these 
unfortunate people gradually, if their mind can 
but be recalled from a single fixed idea, or if this 
can only be modified properly. It is further 
highly important to observe what particular 
change of weather, of the seasons and of the 
moon has the greatest influence upon their dis- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 155 

order, which will enable you to avail yourself of 
those moments which are most favourable for 
attempting a cure. I have also observed that 
confinement and every sort of harsh treatment 
generally serves only to make the evil worse. 
On this occasion I cannot help expressing my 
admiration of the madhouse at Frankfort on 
the Mein, which I have had many opportunities 
of observing. The disordered persons who are 
received in that institution, arc suffered to walk 
about in the house and the garden whenever it 
can be done with safety, at least in those seasons 
in which their disease is less violent. 

Their keepers treat them with so much mild- 
ness that many of them after a few years quit 
the house again entirely cured, and a greater 
number remain at most only melancholy, so as to 
be capable of performing manual work; whereas 
these people in many other hospitals, perhaps 
would have been rendered mad in the highest 
degree by close confinement and hard treatment. 

People of weak understandings may also be 
disordered in their intellects, if a violent passion 
by which they are ruled, be nourished, excited 
and irritated. I remember to have seen two 
such miserable beings : one of them possessed 
in his youth an excellent understanding, great 



156 PRACTICAL 'PHILOSOPHY 

ability and wit, traces of which were still visible 
when he enjoyed calmer moments. He was to 
have studied the law but had learnt nothing, and 
abandoned himself to a profligate life. On re- 
turning to his native town he was treated as 
an ignorant idler, and was conscious of his de- 
serving it. Yet he possessed an uncommon 
pride and was not quite poor. Forsaken by his 
family and shunned by his equals, he began to 
form connexions with the court officers of the 
Prince of ***. His jocose sallies at length in- 
troduced him to the noticeof thePrince himself. 
He soon became very familiar with the latter, 
and the whole court flattered his vanity. This 
familiarity terminated however in his being 
abused and treated as a privileged merry-maker. 
Yet this was still a sort of existence which pleased 
him, While he was not abused too much and at 
liberty to converse familiarly with people of 
rank, and to tell them sometimes severe truths. 
But as the latter were not inclined to condescend 
too much to him for nothing, and likewise not 
always disposed to listen patiently to his witti- 
cisms, which frequently were rather coarse, he 
experienced sometimes very humiliating treat^ 
ment and even corporeal chastisement, yet could 
not relinquish his disgraceful career, because his 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 15/ 

relations and acquaintances held him in extreme 
contempt, and his little fortune was totally 
spent. Thus he sunk deeper and deeper every 
day, and at last grew entirely dependent on the 
court. The Prince caused a parti-coloured 
jacket to be made for him, and there was not 
even a scullion in the palace that did not think 
himself in titled to pass a joke upon him, or to 
pull him by the nose for a pint of wine. Despair 
now urged him to get drunk every day, and if ever 
he happened to be sober, the idea of his dreadful 
situation, the consciousness of the mean partwhich 
he acted, the aversion from inventing new jokes 
to preserve his place, and his awakening pride 
tormented his mind, while he ruined his con- 
stitution by excesses. His intellects became 
actually disordered, and at one time he was 
so mad as to render it necessary to chain him. 
At the time I saw him he was an old man, re- 
duced to a most lamentable situation. He was 
treated as a frantic person, and regarded rather 
as an object of aversion than of pity. He en- 
joyed however, at times, some lucid intervals, in 
which he betrayed an uncommon degree of 
penetration, wit and genius ; and when he 
wanted to obtain a charitable gift he could 
Hatter in the most artful and insinuating man 



153 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

ner, and displayed so much dexterity in taking 
advantage of the weakness of others, so much 
practical knowledge of the human heart, that I 
knew not whether I ought to sigh more at 
those that had reduced him to this terrible state 
or at his own deviations. 

The other person of whom I am about to 
speak was once steward in a nobleman's family, 
but on my first seeing him he lived upon a pen- 
sion. As he was of no further use to his mas- 
ter, he as well as his family and domestics 
amused themselves with his pride and amorous 
disposition. They called him Your Highness, 
gave him an order, forged letters of Princes and 
Kings, in which he was informed that he was 
of an illustrious family, and had been kidnapped 
in his infancy ; that the Turkish Emperor who 
had usurped his dominions, wanted to have him 
assassinated, and that a Grecian Princess was in 
love with him. Some friends of the family dis- 
guised themselves as Ambassadors, and pre- 
tended to have been sent to enter into nego- 
ciations with him. In short, after a few years 
the intellects of the poor fellow were entirely 
disordered, and he believed all this nonsense 
seriously. 

I forbear to make any comments on these 
1 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 15Q 

two lamentable facts, as the reader will easily 
be able to judge in what light they ought to be 
viewed. 



CHAPTER IV. 

On the Conversation with People of a different 
Age. 



SECTION I. 

A HE conversation with people who are of the 
same age with us seems indeed to have many 
advantages and charms. A congenial manner 
of thinking, and a reciprocal exchange of 
such ideas as interest the attention of both 
parties in an equal degree, unite men more 
strongly to each other : certain inclinations and 
desires are peculiar to every different age ; the 
disposition changes in the course of time ; we 
do riot keep pace with the change of taste and 
fashion ; the heart grows colder and takes less 
interest in new objects ; our imagination and 
vivacity cools ; many happy delusions have dis- 
appeared ; numberless objects that were dear to 
us have passed away and are no more ; the 



l6O FKA^TICAL PHILOSOPHY 

partners in our juvenile pleasures are gone to 
their eternal home, and the youth around us 
attend only out of civility to our accounts of the 
pleasures of our happier days. Congenial expe- 
rience affords more matter for conversation than 
events which are entirely foreign to those with 
whom we converse. All this cannot be dis- 
puted; yet disparity of temper, of education, 
fate and occupation frequently expand or con- 
tract these boundaries. Many people remain 
in some degree for ever children, while others 
grow old men before their time. The rake 
who has ruined his body and soul and satiated 
himself by all sorts of sensual gratification, 
naturally finds very little pleasure in the society 
of young and innocent country people, who 
have not yet lost their sense for artless joys ; 
and an old country gentleman who has never 
travelled farther from his home than thirty or 
forty miles, is as little comfortable and happy 
in a circle of experienced and polished in habi- 
tants of the capital as an aged Capuchin would 
be in a society of hoary literati. On the other 
hand it cannot be denied that many fashionable 
passions, as for instance, those for hunting, 
gambling, drinking and backbiting frequently 
unite old men and youths, aged women and 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. l6l 

young girls in the most cordial manner. This 
exception from the above observation, that the 
conversation between people who are of the 
same age has many advantages and charms, can- 
not depreciate the value of the rules which we 
are about to give with regard to the conversation 
between people of a different age ; we only 
beg leave to make one remark more : An over- 
scrupulous separation of people of different 
years, which is established in most great families 
of this country, where young people are rarely 
admitted to companies which are composed of 
persons of a maturer age before they have com- 
pleted a certain number of years, is extremely 
hurtful. The tone which young people adopt 
if constantly left to themselves, is generally not 
the best ; their manners are not improved, and 
a certain awkward timidity and bashfulness takes 
possession of their mind, which frequently 
renders them extremely ridiculous when they 
are first introduced into mixed societies; besides, 
old people are confirmed in their egotisms, 
grow intolerant and morose to their children, if 
they constantly be in company only with such 
persons as make a common cause with them, as 
soon as they begin to extol former times at the 
VOL. i. M 



102 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

expence of the present age, the tone of which 
they do not know. 

$ II. OLD people very rarely are just enough 
to put themselves in the place of younger per- 
sons, but leave them undisturbed in the enjoy- 
ment of their innocent sports, without a wish 
to promote them by joining in these youthful 
pleasures. They reflect not on their own 
juvenile years, and thus it happens that old 
people generally desire young men should be 
as sedate, sober and reflecting as themselves, 
and shew the same coolness, moderation and 
prudence which experience and the change 
which nature has produced in their temper, 
teaches them to display. Juvenile sports appear 
unimportant to them, and the gambols of youth 
are considered by them as thoughtless wanton- 
ness. It is however extremely difficult for old 
people to recal to their recollection the situation 
and state of mind in which they were twenty 
or thirty years before, and this causes them to be 
often highly unjust in their judgment, and to 
commit many errors in the education of their 
children. Oh ! let us remain young as long as 
possible, and when the winter of life bleaches 
our hair, when the blood creeps slower through 
our veins and our heart grows cooler, look down 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. l63 

with sympathetic pleasure upon our younger 
brethren who are gathering vernal roses, while 
we are seated by the paternal fire-side, to rest 
from the toils of life and to warm our chilling 
blood ! Let us not preach down by severe and 
frigid reasoning the sweet pleasures of youthful 
fancy ! When we look back upon those happy 
days in which a single smile from the enchant- 
ing virgin who now is a withering matron enrap- 
tured us with heavenly bliss ; in which music 
and dancing thrilled every nerve of our frame 
with pleasure ; in which merriment and the 
sallies of wit dispelled every gloomy thought, 
and sweet dreams of future felicity, pleasing 
bodings and rosy hopes cheered our existence. 
Oh ! then let us prolong that happy period to 
our children, and participate as much as possible 
in their juvenile raptures. Infants and children, 
youths and blooming virgins will then croud 
around the cheerful old man who encourages 
their innocent mirth. When a young man I 
was connected with such amiable old ladies, 
whose society, had it been in my option, I 
would have preferred on the journey through 
life to that of many a handsome and blooming 
girl ; and when I chanced to be seated at a 
convivial feast by the side of a dull beauty, I 

M2 



164 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

I frequently envied the man who was placed 
near a cheerful old woman. 

III, Bv recommending such a good-natured 
condescension to the disposition of youth, I 
however do not mean to infer, that an old man 
can be excused if he forget his dignity so far 
as to act the contemptible part of a gay fop or a 
professed merrymaker; or that it is becoming a 
woman who has nearly compleated half a cen- 
tury to dress like a young girl, to practise the 
despicable arts of coquetry, or to rival the 
younger part of her sex in their amorous con- 
quests. Such a breach of decorum produces 
contempt, and justly deserves it. People of a 
certain age ought never to give an opportunity 
to youth of ridiculing them, or to neglect paying 
them that regard to which they are intitled by 
their riper years. 

IV. IT is however not sufficient that the 
society of old people be not burdensome and 
offensive to youth ; it ought also to be useful 
to them. A greater share of experience obliges 
the former to instruct and to guide the latter, 
and to lead them in the path of virtue and hap- 
piness by their advice and example. This how- 
tiver must be done without pedantry, pride 
and presumption ; without a ridiculous predi- 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. l65 

lection for every thing that is old ; without 
demanding a sacrifice of all juvenile pleasures ; 
without intrusion or creating tediousness. I 
rather would advise old people to let their 
society be courted, which undoubtedly will be 
the case ; because well-disposed youths are wont 
to think it an honour to be permitted to converse 
with cheerful and sensible old men, and the 
society of such as shew that they have seen and 
experienced a great deal has always sufficient 
charms. 

$ V. THUS much on the conduct of, old 
people towards the young. I now shall add a 
few words on the conversation of youth with 
men and old people. 

Many sensations which nature has impressed 
on the soul are reasoned away in our enlight- 
ened age, which is so carefully cleared of all the 
rubbish of antiquated prejudices. One of these 
prejudices is the sense of regard for hoary age. 
Our youth ripen sooner, grow sooner wise and 
learned than those of former times did. They 
repair by diligent reading, particularly of maga*- 
zincs, pamphlets and novels their want of ex- 
perience and study. This renders them so 
intelligent as to be able to decide upon subjects 
which our forefathers thought could only be 



1(56 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

clearly comprehended after a close and studious 
application of many years. Thence arises that 
noble self-sufficiency and confidence which 
inferior geniuses mistake for impudence and 
arrogance, that consciousness of internal worth 
with which the beardless boys of our age look 
down upon old men, and decry every thing 
that happens to come in their way. The ut- 
most that a man of riper years may expect now- 
a-days from his children and grand children is, 
kind indulgence, chastising censure, being 
tutored by them and pitied, because he is so 
unfortunate as not to have been born in our 
happy age, in which wisdom rains from Heaven, 
unsown and uncultivated, like the manna in 
the desert. 

VI. THERE are many things in this world 
which can be learnt only by experience ; there 
are sciences which absolutely require close and 
long study, reiterated reflection and meditation, 
coolness of temper and mature judgment ; and 
therefore I think the most brilliant and 
acute genius in most cases ought to pay some 
attention and deference to an old man, whose 
inferiority of faculties is compensated by age 
and experience. It must be acknowledged in 
general, that the store of experience which a 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. . 

UU.IM1 JAJJT> J .iT 

man gathers in a long course of years enables 
him to fix. his ideas, to awaken from ideal 
dreams, to avoid being led astray by a lively 
imagination, the warmth of blood and the 
irritability of nerves, and to behold the objects 
with which he is surrounded in their proper 
point of view. It is besides so noble and 
amiable to render the latter days of the pilgri- 
mage of life, in which cares and sorrows gene- 
.rally encrease and enjoyment takes its flight, as 
easy as possible to those that soon are to bid an 
eternal farewel to the treasures and gratifications 
of this world, that I feel myself impelled to 
exclaim with additional energy to youth of 
every description- " Rise up before the hoary 
head, and honour the face of the old. Court 
the society of old and experienced people ! Do 
not despise the counsel of cool reason, nor the 
advice of experience. Treat the hoary as you 
wish to be treated when your hair shall be 
bleached by old age. Respect them and do 
not desert them, when wild and thoughdess 
youths shun their company." 

As for the rest, it cannot be denied that there 
are many old fools, as there are also wise young 
men who have earned already when others 
scarcely have begun to sow. 



168 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

$ VII. THE conversation with children is 
highly interesting to a sensible man. He be- 
holds in them the book of nature in an uncor- 
rupted edition. Children appear as they really 
are, and as they are not misled by systems, 
passions or learning, judge of many things 
better than grown persons ; they receive many 
impressions much sooner, and are not guided by 
so many prejudices as the latter. In short, if 
you wish to study men you must not neglect to 
mix with the society of children. However, 
the conversation with them requires considera- 
tions which are not necessary in the society of 
people of maturer years. 

It is -a sacred duty to give them no offence 
whatever, to abstain in their company from all 
wanton discourses and actions, and to display 
in their presence benevolence, faith, sincerity, 
decency and every other virtue ; in short, to 
contribute as much as possible to their improve- 
ment ; for their ductile and uncorrupted mind 
is as ready to receive good impressions as it is 
open to the seeds of vice, and I may safely 
maintain that the degeneracy of mankind is 
greatly owing to the imprudence and inconside- 
ration with which people of a maturer age 
deport themselves in the presence of children. 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. l6() 

Let therefore all your discourses and actions 
be graced with truth when you are in their so- 
ciety. Condescend in a becoming manner to 
that tone which is intelligible to them, carefully 
avoid tcazing and vexing them, as is the custom 
of many people ; for this has the most lament- 
able effect upon their character. 

Good-natured children are attracted by a se- 
cret and peculiar sense to benevolent and ami- 
able people, though they should not take much 
notice of them ; whereas they shun others that 
are of a less commendable disposition, notwith- 
standing their endeavours to ingratiate them- 
selves with them. Purity and innocence of 
heart is the talisman by which they are charmed. 

It is very natural that parents should be fond 
of their children, it is therefore prudent to pay 
some attention to the latter if we wish to gain 
the favour of the former. By this however I do 
not mean to infer that it is right to flatter the 
spoiled children of the Great, thus to nourish 
the vanity, pride, and peevishness of these 
generally already but too corrupted beings, to 
contribute to their moral degeneracy and to 
transgress the principal law of nature, which or- 
dains that the child shall pay homage to the man 
of maturer years. 



170 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

Above all things I would advise you not to 
interfere if parents in your preseece reprimand 
their children, by taking the part of the latter, 
for this will make them believe that their parents 
are in the wrong, diminish their filial love, con- 
firm them in their disobedience, and intrude 
upon the plan of education laid down by the 
former. 

tut is & 

l - : - v - : ' ;!: .-y.-.: 



CHAPTER V. 

- . . i )i : i ". ! _ .1 J V >' 

On the Conversation between Parents, Children 
.: TV-V! and Relations. 



SECTION I. 

1 HE first and most natural bond that unites 
men with men, after the connexion subsisting 
between husband and wife, is the tie which 
connects parents to their children. Although 
propagating thespeices be not intended to serve 
for the benefit of the future generation, yet 
there are but very few that are not perfectly 
pleased with the reality of their existence ; 
and notwithstanding parents who live in chris- 

1 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 

tian states do not educate, nourish and bring up 
their children merely from a voluntary choice, 
yet it would be highly absurd to deny that the 
numerous troubles and cares which this pro- 
duces impose the most sacred obligations upon 
the latter ; or to maintain that no impulse of 
benevolence, sympathy and affection attaches 
those to us whose flesh and blood we arc, who 
have nursed and cherished us, cared for us and 
shared all their comforts with us. 

Immediately after the union between parents 
and children, follows the connexion subsisting 
between the different branches of one family. 
The members of the same family being united 
and rendered harmonious by a similarity of or- 
ganisation, and education, as well as by a com- 
mon interest, feel for each other what they do 
not for strangers ; and they estrange themselves 
from the rest of human society in the same pro- 
portion in which the circle of their family 
encreases. 

Patriotism is a more compound sensation, but 
still more cordial and warm than cosmopolitism 
in a man who has been early ejected from 
civil society, and wandering as an adventurer 
from country to country, has no property and 
no relish of social duties. A person who does 



172 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

not love the mother from whose breast he has 
drawn nourishment, whose heart is not wanned 
at the sight of the place in which he has chear- 
fully spent the innocent and happy days of his 
youth, cannot possibly take a lively interest in 
the welfare of the whole, because property, mo- 
rality, and every thing that can be dear to man 
in this world rests, in fact, upon the preservation 
of the bonds that unite us to our country and 
family. 

These bonds growing looser every day, 
prove that we decline more and more from the 
excellent order of nature and its laws ; and if 
a turbulent genius whom his country expels, 
because he refuses to submit to its laws, in his 
indignation at the restraint which morality and 
the police impose upon him, maintain that it js 
becoming a philosopher to dissolve all close r 
connexions, and to acknowledge no other bonds 
than those of general philanthropy, this proves 
only that in our times even the most singular 
and extravagant principle must serve as a main 
pillar of some philosophical system. Happy 
eighteenth century, in which such great dis- 
coveries are made, as for instance : that we may 
learn to read without being acquainted with 
letters and syllables, and that we may love the 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 173 

whole human race without loving individuals ! 
Century of universal medicines, of philalethes, 
philanthropists and cosmopolites, whither wilt 
thou lead us at last ? General illumination will 
spread over all ranks ; the husbandman will let 
his plough stand idle, and read to Princes 
lectures on liberty and equality, and on their 
obligation to share the drudgeries of life with 
him t every one will attempt to reason down all 
prejudices that stand in his way ; laws and civil 
regulations will be superseded by license ; the 
powerful and the better-instructed will reclaim 
his right of superiority, and follow his impulse 
to care for the best of the whole world at the 
expence of his weaker brethren ; property, con- 
stitutions and political restrictions will cease to 
be respected, every one will be his own ruler, 
and invent a system of his own to gratify his 
desires. Oh ! happy, golden age ! We then 
shall be but one family, shall press the noble and 
amiable cannibal to our heart, and, if that ge- 
neral benevolence should spread farther, walk 
through life hand in hand with the witty and 
sensible'Ourang-Outang. Then all fetters will 
be broken and all prejudices dispelled. We 
then shall not be bound to pay the debts of our 
fathers, nor to be satisfied with one wife, and 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

the lock of our neighbour's strong box will 
prevent us no longer from making good our 
innate right to the gold which all-bountiful na- 
ture produces for general use. 

We happily are not yet arrived thus far ; and 
as there still exists a great number who as well 
as myself love their relations, have a relish for 
domestic happiness, and cherish family-bonds, 
it will not be superfluous to subjoin a few re- 
marks on the conversation with near relations. 
There are parents who, living in a continual 
round of amusements, scarcely see their children 
once in a day, gratify their propensity for plea- 
sure while hirelings are intrusted with the edu- 
cation of their sons and daughters, and when 
they are grown up, live with them on such a 
cool and civil footing as though they were not 
at all connected with them. It is unnecessary 
to prove that this conduct is highly unnatural 
and unwarrantable. There are also other parents 
who demand of their children such a slavish 
submission and so many considerations and sa- 
crifices, that the restraint and shyness which 
their tyranny-creates destroy all confidence and 
tender intercourse in such a degree, as to render 
the hours which children must spend in the 
company of their parents*; extremely heavy and 



OP SOCIAL LIPR. 175 

dreadful to them. Others likewise intirely for- 
get that boys attain the age of manhood, and 
treat their adult sons and daughters as if they 
still were babes, not indulging them with even the 
least liberty of choice, and will leave nothing at 
all to their own judgment. This is extremely 
wrong and imprudent. Respect does not con- 
sist in rigorous awe, but can exist extremely 
well with a confidential and familiar intercourse. 
We do not love a person to whom we scarce- 
ly dare to look up, nor do we communicate 
ourselves to those that always are preaching up 
severe laws, because restraint and coercion de- 
stroy all open and voluntary communication. 
What can be more charming than to behold a 
tender father in the circle of his adult children, 
who pant after his wise and chearful conversation, 
conceal none of their inmost wishes from him, 
who is their counsellor, their most indulgent 
friend and shares in their innocent juvenile 
sports ; or at least does not interrupt them, and 
lives with them as his best and natural friends ! 
An* union for which all the feelings that can 
be dear to man incessantly plead, -namely, the 
voice of nature, of sympathy, and of gratitude ; 
similarity of taste and of interest, and the habU 
of mutual intercourse* This familiarity is, 



PflACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

however, often carried too far. I know parents 
who render themselves despicable by participa- 
ting in the excess of their children, or by neg- 
lecting to Conceal their own vices, and thereby 
provoke the ridicule and contempt of those to 
whom they ought to set a good example. 

$ III* It is not uncommon in our days to see 
children neglect their parents or even treat 
them ill. The principal ties of human society 
grow laxer every day ; young men think that 
their fathers are not wise, entertaining and en- 
lightened enough, and girls yawn in the com- 
pany of their hoary mother, not reflecting how 
many tedious hours their parent spent at their 
cradle in attending and nursing them when 
they were stretched on the sick-bed, or in per- 
forming the most disagreeable and offensive 
labours, to render them comfortable and to ease 
their pains, and that she denied herself many 
pleasures to take care of the little helpless, unclean 
being, who without her tender attendance per- 
haps would have perished. Children forget but 
too often how many chearful hours they have 
iinbittered to their parents by their stunning 
clamour, how many sleepless nights they have 
caused to their careful father who exerted him- 
self to the utmost of his abilities to provide for 
3 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 177 

his family, and was obliged to deny himself 
many comforts for their benefit. Well-disposed 
minds however will never be so totally devoid of 
all sense of gratitude as to be in want of my 
advice, and for mean and unfeeling souls I do 
not write. It is only necessary to observe, that 
if children really fhould have reason to be 
ashamed of the weakness or the vices of their 
parents, they will do much better to conceal 
their defects as much as possible than to neg- 
lect paying them that external regard which 
they owe them in many respects. The blessings 
of Heaven and the approbation of all good men 
are the certain rewards of the attention which 
sons and daughters pay to the comfort and hap- 
piness of their parents. It is a great misfortune 
to a child to be tempted by the discord in which 
his parents live, or by other causes, to take the 
part of one against the other. Prudent parents 
however will carefully avoid involving their 
children in such altercations ; and on such oc- 
casions good children will behave with that cir- 
cumspection and tenderness which probity and 
prudence require. 

IV. We often hear people complain that 
more assistance, kindness and protection may be 
expected from strangers than from the nearest 

VOL. i. N 



178 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

relations ; but I think this complaint to be ge- 
nerally unjust and unfounded. There are cer- 
tainly uncharitable people to be found amongst 
our relations as well as amongst those that are 
not connected with us by the ties of blood. It 
cannot be denied that relations frequently pay 
regard to their kindred only if they are rich or 
honoured by the multitude, but are ashamed of 
their obscure, poor or persecuted relatives ; Ithink 
however that many demand of their uncles, 
aunts and cousins more than they ought to do. 
Our political situation, the rapid encrease of 
luxury, and the enormous load of taxes with 
which we are burthened, render it highly ne- 
cessary for every prudent man to confine his 
principal care to the maintenance of his wife 
and children, and the cousins, nephews and 
nieces who frequently rely entirely on the assis- 
tance of their powerful and wealthy relations, 
neglect to render themselves capable of pro- 
viding for themselves, and squander away their 
time and money, have but too often such 
heavy and unreasonable demands upon their 
kindred, as render it impossible for a man who 
is not callous to the voice of his duty and con- 
science, to realize their expectations without 
being unjust to others. In order to avoid these 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 179 

disagreable collisions, I advise you not to slight 
that cordial and confidential intercourse which 
renders our connexion with relations so highly 
agreeable, but at the same time to entertain and 
excite as little expectation as possible of obtain- 
ing assistance and protection from relatives ; 
to assist your kindred as much as you can with- 
out being unjust to better people ; but to avoid 
carefully pushing the fortune of your ignorant 
and undeserving relations, and procuring places 
for them to the injury of worthy and meritorious 
strangers, as this will render you extremely 
odious and create you more enemies than 
friends. 

Relations, as well as married people and friends, 
as we shall state more at large in a future page, 
ought to observe that persons who know each 
other more intimately, and see one another fre- 
quently without disguise, must be particularly 
circumspect in their conduct to avoid growing 
tired of each other, and overlook ing great merits 
on account of trifling defects. 

It is finally to be wished, that the members of 
large families in the middle station would not 
continually associate only with their relations ; 
for this divides human society into too many 
separate parties ; those that are not connected 

N 2 



180 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

with them by the ties of blood are kept at a dis- 
tance, and if a stranger happen to drop into 
their circle he finds himself very awkwardly 
situated. 

V. Old uncles and aunts, particularly such 
as are married, are very apt to scold, to vent 
their gouty and hysteric humours at their ne- 
phews and nieces, and to treat them as if they 
were still in leading strings, which is highly un- 
just and imprudent. Such conduct has rendered 
them proverbial, and a trifling legacy is too 
dearly bought if we must patiently listen to 
continual somniferous and useless lectures ; 
whereas these good old folks would be greatly 
loved and tenderly treated by their young re- 
lations, if they were prudent enough to be less 
morose in their conduct. 

VI. We frequently find in cities, and particu- 
larly in large manufacturing towns, an extremely 
stiff and insupportable tone amongst persons 
who belong to one family. Civil, oaconomical 
and other considerations render it necessary for 
them to see each other often, notwithstanding 
which they constantly quarrel, teaze, vex arid 
hate one another, and thus imbitter their life. 
If you cannot sympathise with your relations, 
you ought at least to treat them civilly, and to 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 181 

abstain from making their life miserable by con- 
tinual altercation, which only tends to render 
them more spiteful, instead of reconciling their 
animosity and rancour ; whereas you may be 
certain of rendering your intercourse with them 
less burthcnsome and painful by forbearance and 
kindness: for nothing is more apt to blunt the 
edge of enmity and discord than returning good 
for evil, and preserving an unshaken equanimity 
of temper. 



CHAPTER IV. 
On Conjugal Conversation. 



SECTION I. 

WISE and good choice in concluding the 
most important bond of human life, is undoubt- 
edly the safest means by which married people 
can render their connexion happy and cheerful. 
If, however, people who do not contribute mu- 
tually to sweeten the life of each other, and to 
render its burthens less onerous, but on the con- 
trary arc swayed by opposite inclinations and 



182 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

wishes, and guided by different reasons, unfor- 
tunately have contracted an indissoluble union, 
this really is a truly miserable situation, and an 
existence replete with continual sacrifices, a 
state of dire necessity from which death only can 
release the hapless sufferer. 

This bond is no less unfortunate if dissatisfac- 
tion and aversion be only on one side, if the ma- 
trimonial tie has not been connected by volun- 
tary choice, but on account of political or ceco- 
nomical considerations, or occasioned by coer- 
cion, despair, distress, gratitude, by accident or 
a transient whim, or mere sensual desire in 
which the heart was not interested; if one party 
always expect to receive and never will give, 
demanding continually to have all wants and 
wishes gratified, claim constantly advice, assist- 
ance, attention, diversion, pleasure and comfort, 
and will do nothing in return. Be therefore 
careful how you choose a partner for life, if you 
do not wish to leave your whole future domestic 
happiness to the faithless and deceiving favour 
of chance. 

^ II. IF we, however, consider that even 
those marriages which depend on voluntary 
choice, generally are concluded in an age and 
under circumstances in which man is determi- 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 183 

ned rather by blind passion and natural instinct 
than by mature consideration and reason, al- 
though he dream and talk in that state of delu 
sion of a great deal of sympathy and fondness 
we should rather be astonished that there arc 
still so many happy couples in the world. Kind 
Providence has, however, regulated every thing 
so wisely, that our happiness frequently is pro- 
moted by what seems to be most contrary to it. 
The mischief arising from our incapacity to 
choose properly in our juvenile years is happily 
counterpoised by our being more pliable, duc- 
tile and accommodating in that age than in the 
years of maturity. The rough edges are smoothed 
easier when the mass is yet soft and pliable than 
when it is hardened. We are less difficult in 
our younger years than when experience has 
rendered us nicer and more cautious, and exci- 
ted great expectations in our soul ; when our 
cooler reason anatomizes every thing more care- 
fully, and every interruption of our enjoyment is 
accounted a great loss, because the reflection on 
the space we have run through reminds us for- 
cibly of the short period we may expect to live, 
and actuates us to husband our time and plea- 
sure more carefully. If differences arise between 
a young couple, they arc also soon reconciled 



T84. PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

again : aversion and hatred do not root so deeply, 
and while the senses maintain their right in full 
force, the most violent matrimonial dissensions 
are frequently terminated by a single conjugal 
embrace. To this we must add that habit, com- 
mon interest, domestic occupations, which leave 
us little time to abandon ourselves to idle fan- 
tasies, the pleasure which our children afford us, 
the mutual care of their education, and the joint 
concern for their future happiness contribute in 
those years, in which youth, vigour and acti- 
vity animate us to ease the burden of the matri- 
monial yoke, and to afford us numerous and 
various pleasures which receive an additional 
relish from the share the faithful partner of our 
life takes in them. But we are of a different 
disposition when we have attained the age of 
maibrity. We then demand more, are eager 
to earn and to enjoy, and disinclined to take 
new burthens on our shoulders ; the character 
has more firmness, we are unwilling to be new 
moulded, and our desires are less clamorous for 
gratification. There are but few exceptions 
from this rule, and these are to be found only 
among the better class of men, who, as they 
advance in years, grow more indulgent and 
gentle, and being firmly convinced of the ge- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 

ncral frailty of human nature, demand little and 
arc willing to give; but this is a kind of heroism, 
a noble self-denial, and we are speaking here of 
the reciprocal promotion of mutual happiness. 
I would therefore advise you to be particularly 
careful in the choice of a conjugal partner at 
that period of life, if such counsel be not su- 
perfluous; for people of a maturer age are 
generally more circumspect in this matter, and 
those who being men act like heedless youths, 
deserve to feel the consequences of their folly. 

I do not believe that a perfect harmony of 
temper, disposition and thinking, of capacities 
and taste is necessarily required to constitute 
matrimonial happiness; the contrary may some- 
times afford more felicity, if the disparity be not 
too great and extend not to essential principles. 
A bond that is founded on mutual interest, and 
in which all the troubles one party suffers equally 
affect the other, renders it frequently necessary 
that the too great vivacity, the rash impetuosity 
of the husband should be temi>crcd by gentle- 
ness, and sometimes even by a little phlegmaon 
the part of the wife, and vice versa, to prevent 
many heedless steps and their dangerous conse- 
quences. Many families would also be reduced 
to total ruin if man and wife were animated with 



186 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

an equal propensity for splendour, luxury and 
extravagnce; or for immoderate benevolence 
and sociability : and as our young novel readers 
commonly shape the ideal picture of their future 
partners after their own dear self, the interfe- 
rence of an old morose father or guardian is 

sometimes very beneficial to them. Thus 

much on the choice of a partner, which is almost 
more than I ought to have said here. 

IV. Married people who must see each other 
every day, and therefore have opportunities 
enow to get acquainted with each other's faults 
and humours, and suffer many inconveniences 
even from the most trifling of them, cannot be 
too circumspect in their conduct ; and it is 
highly important for them to find out means of 
preventing their society from being troublesome 
and tedious to one another, and to guard against 
mutual indifference, coldness and aversion. Dis- 
simulation is one of the worst expedients that 
can be adopted for that purpose ; but nothing 
is more efficacious than a certain regard for our 
own person, and an unrcmitted care to avoid 
every thing that can produce bad impressions. I 
would therefore advise married people carefully 
to cultivate mutual civility, which is the true 
spirit and characteristic of conjugal familiarity, 
andatall times distinguishes a man ofgoodbrecd- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 187 

ing. It is one of the principal requisites of ma- 
trimonial happiness to avoid growing tiresome in 
conversation, and endeavouring to enliven mu- 
tual intercourse as much as possible by a prudent 
change of subjects; as nothing tends more to 
render the society of those with whom we must 
live fastidious than harping constantly on the 
same string, and repeating the same discourse 
on every occasion. I know a married man who 
has related the small store of anecdotes and nu- 
merous stories which he possesses so often to his 
wife, and in her presence to strangers, that the 
vexation and irritability which they produce 
in her mind arc but too apparently depicted in 
her countenance whenever he entertains his 
guests with those hacknicd sallies. A person who 
reads good books, frequents polished societies and 
reflects upon what he reads, sees and hears, will 
find every day additional matter for interesting 
conversation ; but this will certainly not be suffi- 
cient if he idle away the whole day by the side 
of his wife, and dedicate no time to useful occu- 
pation ; he then will be obliged to begui'e the 
tedious hours by playing at cards, or in any 
other equally insipid manner, if he can meet with 
no other company ; or have recourse to what is 
still more to be deprecated, the temptation of 



188 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

' 

quarrelling with his consort by way of amuse- 
ment. It is therefore very salutary if the hus- 
band have some regular employment, which fixes 
him at least for some hours every day to his 
writing desk, or calls him abroad ; or if a short 
absence should occasionally intervene, which 
rarely fails giving new relish to the society of 
his wife; during which period he is wishfully 
expected by his faithful partner, who carefully 
directed his domestic affairs whilst the tcnderest 
anxiety has been expressed for his safety and 
presence : on his return she receives him joy- 
fully; when the evenings glide imperceptibly 
away amid chearful discourses and consultations 
relating to the welfare of his family, and in con- 
sequence the matrimonial happiness of both is 
not poisoned by satiety. I would therefore 
advise those that wish to excite a new relish to 
their conjugal bliss, to separate themselves now 
and then for a short period from the object of 
their love, by going a journey, and thus give a 
new zest to connubial enjoyments. It is also 
requisite that those who desire to preserve each 
other's regard, should avoid every thing which 
can render their person disagreeable in the eyes 
of the object of their tenderest affection, and 
particularly uncleanlincss of dress and impn> 



OF SOCIAL LIFfi. 1 8<) 

priety of conduct. Those that live in the coun- 
try in particular, cannot be too careful to avoid 
all rustic airs, expressions and manners, as well 
as every neglect of their person : for how is it 
possible a wife, who discovers more defects and 
improprieties in her husband, with whom she 
constantly converses, than in other people should 
be partial to his society, and regard and love 
him more than others that display greater polite- 
ness and decorum ? And how can the conjugal 
state afford her real happiness, if her feelings be 
constantly wounded, and her life prove an unin- 
terrupted train of sacrifices and sufferings ? 

V. IP you so punctually and c^fully fulfil 
your duties, and act after such a regular and 
firm plan as to surpass if possible all your ac- 
quaintances, you may justly expect to be sin- 
cerely beloved by your wife, and finally prefer- 
red to all those that produce momentaneous 
impressions on her heart by single eminent qua- 
lities and accomplishments. But you must be 
careful to fulfil all these duties. A man who 
gets privately drunk once or twice every week, 
will derive but little benefit from his being capa- 
ble to boast of his disinterestedness, diligence, 
ceconomy and the respect paid him by good 
j and the wife who neglects the education . 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

of her children, will derive very little advanta^ 
from her chastity, which perhaps is principally 
owing to want of temptation or a cold disposi- 
tion. If you claim regard and love as a duty, 
you must be careful to deserve it ; and if you 
expect your wife should honour and love you 
more than any other man, you must not rest 
this expectation merely upon the promise which 
she has given you at the altar, but found it 
chieflv upon your unremitted endeavours to be 
better and more amiable in every respect than 
others. Vices and virtues can be classed only 
with regard to their consequences ; for they all 
are in factQ^ually important, and a careless hus- 
band is as criminal as an unfaithful wife. Yet 
this is not the general way of thinking. We 
rail frequently against vices to which we are not 
inclined, and do not consider, that being inat- 
tentive to important virtues is as criminal as the 
commission of a bad action. An old woman 
persecutes with furious rage a poor young girl 
who has been betrayed by the warmth of her 
temper and the power of artful seduction into 
a false step, but does not think to deserve being 
censured for suffering her children to grow up 
like irrational brutes, because she has never 
committed an actual breach of her matrimonial 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 1 (J I 

'rows. A careful attention to all our conjugal 
duties, is therefore the safest and the only way 
to insure the attachment and love of our matri- 
monial partners. 

$ VI. NOTWITHSTANDING this, amiable stran- 
gers may sometimes happen to make more fa- 
vourable though transient impressions upon our 
consorts than are consistent with our peace. It 
is not to be expected that after the first blind 
love is evaporated, married people should con- 
tinue to entertain such a partiality for each 
other as not to be sensible sometimes of the ac- 
complishments of others. To this we must add, 
that people with whom we occasionally con- 
verse display only their bright side and are more 
apt to flatter us than those with whom we live. 
Impressions of this nature will however be soon 
obliterated, if the husband continue to fulfil his 
duties faithfully, and betray no symptoms of 
mean envy and foolish jealousy which never are 
of the least benefit, but always tend to produce 
bad consequences. Love and regard cannot be 
enforced nor obtained by harsh treatment; a 
heart that must be guarded is like the Mammon 
of the miser, rather an useless burthen than a 
real treasure which contributes to render us hap- 
py : opposition serves only to irritate; no watch- 



1Q2 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

fulness is so great as not to be liable to imposi^* 
tion; and it is natural for man to wish with 
additional ardour for a supposed good as soon 
as the attainment of it v is seen to be attended 
with difficulties, which otherwise perhaps would 
have had no charm for him. 

I would also .advise you to scorn all those lit- 
tle artifices which may be excusable in lovers, 
but ought never to be practised by married 
people; as for instance, to excite jealousy in 
order to animate the passion of the beloved 
object with additional warmth. An union 
which must be founded on mutual regard is 
utterly incompatible with crooked means. If 
my wife unfortunately believe me to be capable 
of sacrificing my duty and conjugal affection to 
foreign inclinations, such practices will serve 
only to lessen her regard for me ; and if she 
perceive that I only trifle with her, these artifi- 
ces will be worse than fruitless, and may pro- 
duce the most lamentable consequences. 

I repeat it again : although the man should 
give his wife or the wife her husband some cause 
for uneasiness, yet this little deviation of the 
heart will not be of long duration, if the injured 
party continue faithfully to perform all matri- 
monial duties. The misguided wife, for in- 
3 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 1 C)3 

%tance, will sooner or later say to herself in a 
moment of cool and dispassionate reflection : 
" Although that man possess many amiable qua- 
lities and accomplishments, yet he is not con- 
nected with me by such tender ties as those that 
unite me with my husband who shares all my 
cares, is the fat her and supporter of my children, 
and participates of all my joys and sorrows ; nor 
will he ever, love me more tenderly than my 
faithful consort, who has already given me so 
many undoubted proofs of his forbearance and 
affection.'* And such a triumph of returning 
love which must take place, sooner or later, obli- 
terates all former sufferings. 

VII. PRUDENCE and probity however re- 
quire that we should arm ourselves against the 
impressions which the superior accomplishments 
of others can make on our heart. I would ad- 
vise every one, therefore, to be particularly care- 
ful to avoid such dangerous opportunities in the 
earlier part of life, when the imagination and 
the passions are but too apt to take fire, and 
the heart so strongly inclined to rebel against 
the controul of sober reason. A young iiia.ii 
who perceives that a woman with whom he 
frequently converses is likely to become dearer 
to him than his wife, and thereby kindle a wild 

VOL. i. O 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

fire in his bosom, or at least imbittcr his domes- 
tic happiness, will do well to drop all intercourse 
with her, lest her illicit society should become 
necessary to him. This rule of prudence ought 
to be particularly attended to in our conversa- 
tion with the finer coquets who. without medi- 
tating any breach of honour, delight in sporting 
with the peace of an honest and feeling man, 
and are proud to cause sleepless nights, to pro- 
voke tears, and to excite the jealousy of other 
women. There are but too. many vain females 
of this class, who are actuated not by a bad heart 
or a vitiated temper, but by an unbridled desire 
to shine and to be generally admired, and thus 
to disturb the domestic peace of many a married 
couple. People of a maturer age whose heart 
has attained more firmness, may safely adopt a 
different mode of conduct. A man of firm prin- 
ciples, who accounts to his understanding for the 
feelings of his heart, and aims at the possession 
of real happiness, will soon recover from the 
too favourable ideas which he may have formed 
of another person to the disadvantage of his wife, 
by seeing the former so frequently as to be able 
to observe that she has more defects than his 
faithful, loving and sensible wife. If he at the 
same time reflect upon the tender interest which 



OF SOCIAL LIEE. 105 

his consort takes in all his pleasures and sorrows, 
at the anxiety which she is wont to display for 
his happiness and comfort, and calls to his aid 
the reflection on the pledges of their mutual ju- 
venile love, his heart will undoubtedly be eager 
voluntarily to return to the sweetest duties. 

VIII. NOTHING is more absurd, nor can 
any thing render domestic life more burthen- 
some and miserable than the foolish idea that 
married people, because they are wedded to 
each other, have a right to monopolize all the 
feelings of their partner, and to demand that no 
other good and amiable person shall be dear to 
the heart of their consort, that the husband 
must be dead to the worth of every other female, 
and that it is a breach of conjugal fidelity if the 
wife speak with warmth and admiration of an- 
other man, and delight in conversing with him. 
Such demands are doubly ridiculous and unjust, 
if one party be already obliged to sacrifice much 
to the other on account of the difference of dis- 
position, or for other reasons. If in such a case 
the husband, for instance, endeavour to exhila- 
rate himself in the company of amiable people, 
to forget his sufferings for a few moments, to 
raise and to warm his spirits, the wife rather 
ought to thank him for it, than to distress him 
o 2, 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

by foolish reproaches, to provoke his indigna- 
tion, and to drive him to despair and the com- 
mission of actual injuries. 

IX. THE choice of such friends as well as 
of pleasures and amusements must however be 
left to the heart and the taste of every individual. 
'We have observed already, that a perfect simi- 
larity of temper, disposition and taste is not ab- 
solutely required for conjugal happiness. It 
Would therefore be an insupportable slavery for 
either party to be obliged to conform in all 
these points entirely with the disposition of the 
other. It is already hard enough for feeling 
people to be deprived of the pleasure of sharing 
with the partner of their life the noble and heart- 
elevating sentiments and impressions which arc 
produced in their mind by good books, the fine 
arts and the like, because her soul is not suscep- 
tible of them ; but to be obliged to deny our- 
selves every gratification of that nature, or to 
regulate the choice of our friends and conversa- 
tion according to the unfeeling whims of a per- 
verted head and a frigid heart, and to deprive 
ourselves of all the comforts that are congenial 
to our disposition and way of thinking this is 
the highest degree of mental misery and worse 
than the torments of hell : and I need not to 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 1Q7 

add that the husband, who is designed by nature 
and the civil constitution to be the head and 
director of his family, and frequently is actuated 
by the most important reasons to cultivate this 
or that connexion, to choose this or that occu- 
pation, or to take steps which may appear sin- 
gular to those that are unacquainted with his 
private motives, can be expected least to suffer 
himself to be controlled in such a manner. On 
the contrary, it contributes very much to render 
Social Life comfortable, if people who are united 
for ever by the most sacred ties, and bound to 
share reciprocally their joys and sorrows, endea- 
vour to accustom themselves gradually to think 
and to feel congenially, and to render their taste 
harmonious ; and it is a proof of an almost 
brutish stupidity, of a despicable indolence, and 
frequently of the most vitiated will, if we, after 
having been united many years with a reason- 
able, polished, and loving being, still are as 
ignorant, raw, calloun and obstinate as we were 
before. Jn that case tranquillity of mind, peace 
and happiness can abide no longer with us after 
the first rapture of love is evaporated, and the 
suffering party begins to be sensible of the con- 
sort's defects, and of the happiness which pro- 
bably would have resulted from a connexion 



198 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

with another person ; whereas tenderness and 
real regard will easily produce that harmony of 
soul in reasonable and sensible people, if not 
obstinacy or a revolting difference of thinking 
render the disparity irreconcilable. 

X. BUT how are we to guard against an 
actual breach of conjugal fidelity ? How are we 
to arm ourselves when violence of temper, want 
of self-dominion, seduction, the arts of co- 
quetry, beauty and opportunities on the one 
hand, tempt us to break the matrimonial vow ; 
and on the other we are repelled by the mo- 
roseness, bad temper, stupidity, sickliness, de- 
formity or the advanced age of our consort ? 
This book is not designed to be a system of 
morals ; I must therefore leave it to every sen- 
sible reader to solve this delicate query as well 
as he can, and to consider by what means he 
can acquire a proper dominion over his pas- 
sions, and avoid dangerous opportunities and 
temptations, which indeed is not so easily effected 
in certain situations and relations as many people 
may think, particularly if we be young. I shall 
however say as much on this head as propriety 
and the plan of this work will permit. 

If you be desirous to avoid the commission of 
an actual breach of fidelity, I would advise you 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 

not to accustom yourself and your wife to ex- 
cess in the enjoyment of your matrimonial 
rights, to voluptuousness, effeminacy and in- 
temperance, and thus to prevent the corporeal 
wants and desires growing too violent. It is 
further highly necessary for married people to 
be chaste; delicate and modest in the dispensa- 
tion of their matrimonial favours, to avoid dis- 
gust, satiety and faunish lust. A kiss is a 
kiss ; and it will generally be the wife's fault if 
a sensible husband be eager to obtain that kiss 
(which he can receive without trouble and in an 
honourable way from the pure and glowing lips 
of his helpmate) from a stranger, contrary to 
his duty and the laws of decency, and vice 
versa. Should you perceive that your consort 
is charmed by the power of novelty, you 
may turn that weakness to your advantage 
by being more parsimonious in the dispen- 
sation of your matrimonial favours, and give 
a new zest to conjugal desires by occasional 
continence and other impediments thrown into 
the way of your partner's sensual gratifications. 

XI. IT undoubtedly is a most painful step to 
dissolve an union with a person who has been 
dear to us, and was once the idol of our wishes. 
A man of sense, who knows from experience 



20O PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

the lamentable consequences which generally 
attend divorces, w$l therefore first try all other 
means before he resolves to separate himself 
from the faithless partner of his bed, and rather 
take all possible pains to reform and recal her 
to her duty than have recourse to that distres- 
sing expedient. 

There are two means of effecting that lau- 
dable purpose, which is highly becoming a man 
who possesses a feeling heart and a generous 
disposition of mind. 

Gentle and prudent treatment is the first 
means which I would advise an husband to ap- 
ply if he find that his wife be inclined to deviate 
from the path of her matrimonial duty. Harsh 
and g-illifig reproaches, and all manner of vio- 
lence will only serve to widen the breach ; 
whereas mild and kind treatment will frequently 
be sufficient to recal a frail wife from the road 
to her own and her husband's ruin. But if you 
wish to succeed, your endeavours to treat her 
with gentleness must be entirely unaffected, 
and nbt_ tinctured with the least symptom of 
stifled indignation or secret anger ; for it will 
be entirely out of your power to reclaim her to 
her duty if she perceive that your conduct be 
the effect of art. Prudence requires farther, 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 2O1 

that you should display sorrow and grief when- 
ever you surprise her in the act of deviating 
from her matrimonial obligations, and to avoid 
carefully betraying the least sign of fretfulncss 
or hatred, as such conduct would only serve to 
confirm her in the pursuit of her lawless career, 
and to alienate her heart more from yon, be* 
cause some people find a pleasure in provoking 
the passions of others, whereas no one that has 
the least spark of sensibility left can delight in 
giving pain. If you continue to proceed in this 
gentle and prudent manner for some time, you 
will have the satisfaction to convince her of 
the goodness of your heart, to insure her re- 
gard, to make her regret the pain and grief 
which she causes )^ou by her weakness, and 
then only can you safely try the second means, 
and remonstrate with her on the impropriety of 
her conduct. But if you really be desirous this 
step should be crowned with success you must 
never lose sight of the following rules :, 

First of all you must, as we have already ob- 
served, impress her with a favourable iJca of 
ynurse]f\ for if your erring wife has no regard 
for you, and suspects your heart or principles, 
remonstrances will only render bad worse. But 
if you have gained her good opinion, if she 



2O2 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

esteem the goodness of your heart, and be af- 
fected by your generous conduct, you may 
safely venture to speak a word of admonition to 
her, and to remind her of the impropriety and 
injustice of her behaviour. This must how- 
ever be done mildly and in a convincing manner. 
You must remonstrate with her in a kind and 
affectionate strain, call her deviation by a gentle 
name, appeal to the many proofs of your sincere 
affection for her which she has received, point 
out indubitable instances of her transgression 
of her duty, as well as the lamentable conse- 
quences that may result from a continuation of 
it, and paint with lively colours the sufferings 
which you have patiently borne. It is how- 
ever absolutely necessary you should not do this 
in the presence of witnesses, but in private, to 
spare her the pain of seeing her weakness ex- 
posed ; because every mortal is desirous to con- 
ceal his faults from the world, and our heart re- 
volts and feels indignant sensations if others be 
informed, in our presence, of our weakness and 
defects. Rage and bitterness are in that case 
the usual consequences of such an imprudent 
indelicacy. I would further beg you to observe, 
that you must select for such remonstrances 

j 

moments in which she is in a good humour. 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 203 

Every mortal has his serene and gloomy hours, 
and the introduction of painful subjects at a 
time when the mind is pressed down by dis- 
agreeable ideas and sensations generally produce 
unpleasant consequences. If you be so fortu- 
nate to catch a propitious moment for remon- 
strating with your misguided consort, you must 
not neglect to do justice to the merits and ami- 
able qualities which she still possesses. Whoever 
knows the nature of the human heart will be 
sensible, that it is of the last importance to pay 
attention to this rule. Man wishes to be good, 
and his mind revolts at the idea of thinking 
himself guilty. We are terrified at the charge 
of having rendered a fellow-creature miserable, 
feel ourselves degraded, and think that our whole 
character is ruined. Can you blame your wife 
if her heart revolt in such a trying moment ; 
and will it not be necessary to remove or to 
prevent such an unfounded error ? This you 
will do most successfully if you preface your 
remonstrance by speaking of your wife's good 
qualities, of her talents, the laudable features of 
her character, of the goodness of her heart and 
other accomplishments that claim your regard ; 
in short, by doing justice to the merits which 
she possesses, and by representing her deviation 



204 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

from her conjugal obligations as the only stain 
that disgraces her. This will soothe her mind, 
check her anger, and render her capable of 
listening patiently to your admonitions, and 
willing to follow your advice. The peace of 
your mind will certainly gain by such an at- 
tempt to recal your erring consort to her duty, 
though you should not succeed as well as you 
may wish ; for at least you will render her more 
cautious in her conduct, and have the satis- 
faction of having done on your part every thing 
that love and prudence can require. 

$ XII. The charge of an actual commission 
of adultery is highly awful and pregnant with 
the most serious consequences ; it is therefore 
the sacred duty of every husband who thinks 
himself injured to inquire carefully and mi- 
nutely, Whether it be founded merely on sus- 
picion or on indubitable facts, before he takes 
any step to vindicate his marital rights. I 
would therefore advise every one that thinks he 
has reason to suspect his wife of disloyal prac- 
tices, to take care not to give way to unfounded 
presumption, and not to infer from the seeming 
partiality of his consort for another man, of 
from her predilection for the society of an ac- 
complished stranger, that she is unfaithful to 



OF SOCIAL. LIFE. 205 

him. Much less ought he to rely upon the 
insinuations and dubious hints of pretended 
friends, or on the tales of antiquated gossips. 
Even our own experience ought to be suspi- 
cious to us in such a momentous case, if our 
observations have not been made with the 
greatest circumspection and coolness ; for how 
often do we find that we heard and saw wrong, 
and repent too late of our hasty judgment ! 
Even if your wife should grow rather cool in 
her conversation with you, you would do wrong 
in taxing her immediately with an improper 
attachment for another ; as this may frequently 
be the effect of private sorrows or secret vexa- 
tion, and sometimes of your own conduct. 

Should you, however, think you have suf- 
ficient cause for suspicion, it will be prudent in 
you to institute the most impartial investigation, 
and to inquire only for such proofs as admit of 
no other interpretation. Justice and love ought 
to be your only guides in that painful tusk; 
and these require you should interpret all ap- 
pearances which excite your suspicion in the 
most favourable manner, and with as much cha- 
rity as possible. While there is the least pos- 
sibility to deduce unfavourable appearances from 
any other cause than infidelity, your own peace 



206 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

of mind requires you should not be too hasty 
in your judgment, but do as you would wish to 
be done by were you in the predicament of 
your suspected wife. 

It is further a rule of prudence and justice, 
not to betray your suspicion to your faithless 
consort while you cannot yet substantiate it by 
the most incontrovertible proofs ; for it is the 
most unpardonable cruelty to afflict an innocent 
heart by such a dreadful suspicion ; and, be- 
sides, if you give vent to your suppositions, you 
will run the risk of inraging and exasperating 
your wife to such a degree as may actuate her 
to punish you by the commission of a crime 
which she otherwise, perhaps, would have ab- 
horred. Such a cruel injury may also destroy 
the peace of an innocent heart for ever. 

XIII. BUT how are you to act if you should 
be so unfortunate as to have incontrovertible proofs 
of your consort's guilt ? In that case, your own 
dignity, prudence, and charity demand of you 
not to torment her by contempt, reproaches, 
scorn, or similar humiliating treatment. For 
what would it avail you ? It would serve no 
other purpose than to plunge her deeper into 
guilt, and put it entirely out of your power to 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 2O7 

recal her to virtue, and lo save yourself from 
disgrace and sorrow. 

Therefore avoid also divulging her crime, 
complaining of it toothers, and so exposing her 
to public shame; because this would be the 
surest way of driving her to despair, of con- 
firming her in the prosecution of her criminal 
course, and of poisoning the mind of your 
children. 

Be generous and humane to your fallen con- 
sort ; do not suffer your children or servants to 
neglect paying her the respect which they owe 
her ; and avoid as much as possible doing any 
thing that could give her pain, particularly in 
the presence of strangers. 

Neglect no opportunity to regain her love by 
kindness, by defending her person against those 
that speak ill of her, by paying a just tribute to 
her good qualities in her absence, by displaying 
a serene and chcarful countenance in her pre- 
sence, and speaking to her in a mild and con- 
ciliating tone ; by convincing her that you take 
a lively interest in her concerns and sympathize 
with her sorrows, by affording her every plea- 
sure and comfort that lies in your power, by 
consulting her on all affairs that concern her ; 



208 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

as well as endeavouring to please her by addi- 
tional neatness in your dress and the like. 

Examine your own conduct impartially ; en- 
deavour to discover what may have caused the 
alienation of her love, and hasten by every kind- 
ness to re-acquire it ; for it is almost impossible 
a wife should be unfaithful to her husband if 
he have not impaired her love by some impro- 
priety in his conduct. 

If you follow these rules you may attempt 
the reformation of your erring consort-with the 
most sanguine hopes of success, as your kind- 
ness and generous conduct will not fail to gain 
you her confidence and regard ; and without 
these all attempts to recal her to her duty will 
be fruitless. Should you be so fortunate as to 
succeed in your endeavour to restore her to 
virtue, your mutual love will undoubtedly be 
stronger than ever, and the increase of your 
happiness will sufficiently atone for all former 
sufferings. It is but natural that this should be 
the consequence. Repentance of her past mis- 
conduct, mutual joy at her reformation, the 
recollection of the dangers and sorrows which 
are past, and the additional relish which the 
conjugal embraces must derive from the long 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 

interval during which both parties were deprived 
of them, cannot but be a sufficient compensa- 
tion for the troubles and the self-denial with 
which the recovery of such an unfortunate be- 
ing is attended a compensation far more valu- 
able and honourable than any sum which the 
laws can adjudge to the injured partner of a 
seduced female the inefficacy of such legal 
punishment being sufficiently proved by the 
numerous trials for adultery which occupy our 
courts of justice. 

XIV. But what is ,to be done if all these 
attempts to recal a faithless wife to her duty be 
made in vain ? In this case only two expedients 
remain, viz. either to separate yourself from 
your guilty consort , or, if circumstances render 
it necessary to endure her, leaving her reforma- 
tion to time. 

The former step ought to be taken by a 
prudent man only in case his wife's guilt be 
attended with public disgrace, or with the pro- 
bable ruin of his fortune ; or if the mind of his 
children be in danger of being irretrievably in- 
fected by her bad example. 

I would however advise you, for the pre- 
servation of your honour and the peace of your 
mind, as well as for your safety and the sake of 

VOL. r. P 



210 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

your children, to avoid all violent reproaches, 
ill-treatment and every thing that betrays ha- 
tred and revenge ; for this will at all times do 
more harm than good. It will also be prudent, 
for the same reasons, not to offend nor to pro- 
voke the relations of the guilty consort, or any 
one of those that are connected with her, because 
you would thus needlessly increase the number 
of your enemies, blow up the flame of ven- 
geance, hurt your peace of mind and your con- 
stitution by the numberless vexations to which 
you would expose yourself. 

I would also advise you not to deny your 
faithless consort, neither before nor after the 
legal separation, that civility and respect which 
good breeding and decency demand, but treat 
her with the same politeness which you are 
used to shew a stranger ; never to speak ill of 
her, but render the state of separation as easy 
to her as possible, and to settle the matter so as 
not to injure the welfare of your children by 
giving vent to passionate heat. 

As, however, circumstances and considera- 
tions may take place that will render it prudent 
to avoid a total separation from the guilty wife, 
and rather to continue Jiving with her than 
taking the benefit of the law notwithstanding 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 211 

the most glaring proofs of her criminality, I 
beg leave to say a few words on that head. 

This case can take place only if the separa- 
tion threaten to be attended with the most ruinous 
consequences ; if for instance the children would 
be deprived by a divorce of the whole of the 
fortune which they have to expect, or if the 
family and the connexions of the guilty wife 
should be so powerful as to be able to ruin you 
entirely. These and other considerations ought 
to be carefully pondered before you take a de- 
cisive step ; and if you find that a total separa- 
tion from your faithless partner will evidently be 
attended with more lamentable consequences 
than you have to expect if you continue to live 
with her, prudence and self-preservation demand 
of you to prefer the latter. 

In that case you will act wisely in concealing 
the disgrace of the faithless wife as much as 
possible from the public, but particularly from 
your servants and children. I would also advise 
you to avail yourself of every propitious oppor- 
tunity that may offer itself to remonstrate with 
your unfortunate consort against her lamentable 
infatuation, to represent to her in mild accents, 
but with lively colours, the dangerous conse- 
quences of her conduct, the iufamy to which 
p 2 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

she devotes herself, and to conjure her not to 
disgrace herself publicly, at least, for her own 
sake ; to palliate her conduct, if it be censured 
in companies in your presence, to meet her 
sometimes abroad, and to treat her on such oc- 
casions with so much kindness and good nature 
as to lead others to think that you live with 
her on the most amicable footing. This is no 
deception ; that being a term which conveys 
the supposition of an untruth by means of which 
we injure others. 

It will generally produce the most salutary 
consequences if the injured party treat the 
offender, at home and abroad, with a certain 
degree of regard and kindness, sparing her all 
unnecessary pain, and proving to her by words 
and deeds that he does not deserve the injuries 
which he suffers from her misconduct. Such 
a wise and noble manner of proceeding will un- 
doubtedly produce some good effect, particu- 
larly if the injured husband watch with addi- 
tional circumspection over his own conduct, 
becoming more than ever a rigorous observer of 
the laws of propriety and virtue, and setting his 
children an example worthy of their imitation. 

I have been thus particular with regard to 
this momentous point, as the crime of adultery 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

Seems to have become the most fashionable of 
all vices ; the principal cause of which seems to 
me to originate in its not being attended in 
this country with public disgrace, but subject 
only to a penalty proportionate to the circum- 
stances of the seducer. Libertines and rakes 
are too willing to part with their money for the 
sake of sensual gratification to be materially 
affected by the risk which they run in seducing 
the wife of an honest man ; whereas solitary 
confinement, transportation, or some public 
mark of disgrace would more effectually serve 
to check them in their libidinous pursuits than 
the heaviest fines. We find that in countries 
where the vile seducers of married women are 
publicly branded with shame, or punished with 
imprisonment, the crime of adultery appears to 
be less frequent than in this country. 

$ XV. AN unlimited confidence ought to 
subsist amongst married people. But are there 
no instances at all in which one party may keep 
something secret from the other ? Undoubtedly 
there are. As the husband is designed by na- 
ture to be the counsellor of his wife and the 
head of his family ; as the consequences of every 
unguarded step taken by his consort devolve 
upon him, and as the laws make him responsible 



214 PKACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

for her conduct ; as the wife, in fact, is no mem- 
ber of the civil body, and the violation of her 
duties falls heavy upon the husband, disgraces 
and injures the family more immediately than 
the misconduct of her consort; as she depends 
more on the public opinion than him, and 
finally, as secresy is rather a manly than a female 
virtue, it may morfe rarely be proper in the 
wife to be close and reserved than in her hus- 
band, and concealment and secresy towards the 
head of the family may produce the worst of 
consequences. The latter, on the contrary, who 
is more immediately connected with the state is 
frequently intrusted with secrets which he has 
no right to divulge, and the communication of 
which may embroil him with others, and who 
Is to direct the whole house, and frequently 
cannot submit the plan upon which he acts to 
the weaker judgment of his wife, but must fol- 
low the dictates of his heart and reason with 
unshaken firmness, and pay no regard to the 
Opinion of the multitude, cannot possibly be 
always as communicative and unreserved as his 
consort might wish. Difference of situation 
however may alter this point of view. There are 
men who would be reduced to the most lament- 
able state were they to take a single step without. 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 215 

the privacy and advice of their wives; and there 
are very talkative men and close women. Be- 
sides, a wife may be intrusted with female secrets 
by a friend. In these and similar cases, pru- 
dence and probity must regulate the conduct of 
both parties. It is however an incontestible 
truth, that all conjugal happiness is at an end if 
real mistrust take place and candour must be 
enforced. Nothing can be more contemptible 
and mean in a husband, than being so vulgar as 
to peep secretly into the private letters of his 
wife, or to open them clandestinely, to search 
her drawers and to rummage her papers. Such 
miserable and ungentlemanlike practices will be 
of very little or no advantage to him ; for 
nothing is easier than to elude the watchfulness 
of a man with regard to injuries that must be 
proved, if once the bonds of mutual attachment 
be destroyed, and the perplexities of delicacy 
and regard conquered. Nothing is less difficult 
for a wife than to deceive a husband whom she 
perfectly knows, if she once have lost all credit 
with him, and beside can convict him of having 
frequently given way to false suspicions, because 
his passion makes him blind, and his mistrust and 
jealousy provoke imposition. Deception is ge- 
nerally the consequence of such an imprudent 



2l6 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

and unjust conduct, which may occasion the 
ruin of the moral character of the best of 
women, and provoke her to commit crimes 
which otherwise perhaps she never would have 
meditated. 

XVI. IT is not advisable, for reasons which 
must be obvious to every intelligent man, that 
married people should transact all their business 
in common ; on the contrary, it is necessary that 
each party should have its proper department of 
activity. It is generally attended with very un- 
pleasant consequences if the wife, for instance, 
compose the official reports of the husband, and 
the latter, when company is expected, must su- 
perintend the kitchen and assist in the nursery. 
This causes the greatest confusion, excites the 
ridicule of the domestics, and, as one relies upon 
the other, nothing is done properly. 

XVII. As for the management of pecu- 
niary concerns I cannot approve the method 
which is almost generally adopted in allowing 
ladies a certain sum of money for housekeeping, 
with which they are obliged to contrive to de- 
fray all expences. This creates a divided in- 
terest ; the wife is reduced to the class of ser- 
vants and tempted to grow selfish, endeavours to 
save, is induced to think her husband too dainty, 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 21 7 

and vexed if he invite a friend to dinner ; the 
husband on the other hand, if he be not actuated 
by delicate aad generous sentiments, is apt to 
think that he lives not well enough for his money, 
or if he wish for an extraordinary dish dares 
not to ask for it through fear of distressing his 
wife. I would therefore advise you to give your 
wife (if not a cook, a housekeeper, or any other 
domestic manage those concerns which properly 
belong to the department of the mistress of the 
house) a sum that is adequate to your circum- 
stances for defraying the expcnces of your table, 
and when that is expended not to look cross if 
she ask for more. Should you, however, find 
that she expends too much, prudence and ceco- 
nomy bid you to examine her accounts, and to 
consult with her in what manner your expcnces 
can be rendered more adequate to your income. 
Do not conceal your circumstances from her; 
and allow her a small sum for innocent pleasures, 
dress and charitable purposes, of which you 
ought to demand no account from her. 

XVIH. CEcoxoMY is one of the first requi- 
sites of conjugal happiness. Therefore should 
you have acquired a habit of dissipation in your 
unmarried state, prudence requires, above all 
things, you should disengage yourself from it 



218 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

as soon as you are united to a deserving consort, 
and use yourself to domestic oeconomy. A 
single man may easily endure distress, want, 
humiliation and neglect ; for if he have a pair 
of sound arms he may find bread any where ; he 
can easily resolve to quit all his connexions, and 
support his life in a remote corner of the globe 
by the labour of his hands : but if a husband 
and father have reduced himself to want and 
poverty by bad oeconomy, and angry looks meet 
those of his family who demand from him sup- 
port, attendance, education and pleasure ; if 
then he do not know where to get bread for to- 
morrow ; or if his civic honour, his promotion 
and the establishment of his children require he 
should live in a decent stile, or display some de- 
gree of splendour in his dress, and he has ren- 
dered himself incapable to do it ; if his creditors 
haunt all his steps, and attornies, jews, and 
usurers distress him day after day then the un- 
fortunate man becomes a prey to ill-humour, to 
bodily and mental diseases ; despair seizes him 
and grief preys on his vitals ; he endeavours to 
blunt the keen edge of self-created misery by 
abandoning himself to an incessant round of 
diversions and excesses ; his conscience tortures 
tris mind with pungent reproaches ; the bitter 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 21 Q 

complaints of his wife follow him every where, 
and the groans and lamentations of his hapless 
children haunt him even in his sleep ; dreadful 
dreams torment him in the arms of his unhappy 
consort ; the contempt with which his purse- 
proud acquaintances look down upon him dis- 
pels ev r ery rising ray of hope, and gloomy 
clouds of despondency darken his brow ; his 
friends forsake him, the ridicule of his enemies 
tortures his soul, and in that dreadful situation 
he is lost to all domestic happiness ; the hapless 
man is then particularly anxious to shun the 
society of those whose peace he has ruined. 
Should therefore one party or the other be in- 
clined to dissipation, it will be advisable to put 
a stop to the growing evil in time, and to con- 
fide the management of all pecuniary affairs tp 
that party which can husband the purse best. 
It will also be needful that a regular plaa should 
be formed, to repair the mischief which already 
has been done, to execute it strictly, to avoid all 
expences which are not utterly necessary, and 
to take care that something should be left for 
enabling the dissipating party to enjoy at least 
some pleasures, lest the restriction should be too 
onerous. 

XIX. IP my readers should ask, Whether 



220" PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

it will be better if the husband or the wife be 
rich ? I must give it as my opinion that it is 
best if the former have the larger fortune. It 
will be well if both have some property to con- 
tribute a mutual share to the expences of house- 
keeping, and to prevent one party from being 
maintained entirely at the cost of the other. 
But if the dcpendance to which the poorer party 
naturally will be reduced on that account can- 
not be avoided, it is more consistent with nature 
that the husband, being the head of the family, 
should contribute the larger share towards sup- 
porting it. A person who marries a rich wife 
ought to take great care to avoid becoming her 
slave on that account. .j 

The little attention which is paid to this rule 
of prudence is the principal cause which de~ 
stroys the happiness of numerous families. If 
my wife had brought me a large fortune I would 
be particularly solicitous to prove to her that I 
have but few wants ; I would incur very few 
private expences, and convince her that I can 
acquire by my own industry as much as I want ; 
I would pay for my board, and be only the adr 
ministrator of her fortune ; I would keep a 
splendid house, because this is fit for rich people, 
but show her that splendour does not flatter my 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. Ill 

vanity, that I can be as happy if I have but two 
dishes at dinner as if I had twenty ; that I do 
not want being waited upon ; that I have a pair 
of sound legs which can carry me as far, though 
not so fast, as her coach and four ; and then I 
would exercise the prerogative of a husband, 
and demand an unlimited controul over the ap- 
plication of her fortune. 

XX. Is it necessary that the husband should 
possess a larger share of prudence and judgment 
than the wife ? This question is also of no small 
importance ; therefore let us investigate it more 
minutely ! 

The notion of prudence and judgment, with 
all its relations and modifications, is not always 
understood in the same manner. The prudence 
of a husband ought to be of a quite different 
nature from what the wife should possess ; and 
if prudence be confounded with knowledge of 
the world, or even with learning, it would be 
madness to desire that the other sex should rea- 
lize as much of it as men. A wife ought to 
possess an esprit de dttn'il, a finesse, a certain 
degree of innocent dexterity, circumspection, 
wit, gentleness, pliancy and patience which the 
male sex do not always possess in the same 
measure. The husband, on the other hand, 

3 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

ought to be endowed with a higher degree of 
foresight, firmness and pertinacy, less subject to 
prejudices, and more indefatigable and polished 
than the wife. 

If you take that question in a more general 
sense, and ask, Whether it be better if the hus- 
band possess weaker intellects and a smaller 
share of knowledge in matters which must be 
understood rightly if we wish to live happy in 
the world, or the wife ? I reply without hesita- 
tion, that it is almost impossible a family could 
be governed well if the wife bear an absolute 
sway. There may be exceptions, but I know 
of none. By this observation, however, I do 
not mean to reflect any blame on the influence 
which good and prudent wives contrive to exer- 
cise over the heart of their husbands ; for who 
could blame a deserving wife for applying her 
powers to that purpose, and what reasonable 
man is not sensible that he frequently wants 
gentle corrections ? That exclusive arbitrary 
sway of which we were speaking, seems to be 
diametrically contrary from the order of nature. 
A weaker constitution of the body, an innate 
predilection for gratifications that are less lasting, 
whims of all sorts which often fetter the under- 
standing on the most important occasions, edit- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 223 

cation, and finally the civil constitution which 
renders the husband responsible for the actions 
of his wife, design her to look out for protection, 
and demand of the husband to be her guardian. 
Nothing however is more absurd than if the 
wiser and stronger party be to commit itself to 
the protection of the weak and less wise. Ladica 
of eminent mental accomplishments act, there- 
fore, evidently contrary to their own interest, 
and prepare for themselves numerous disagree- 
able scenes in suffering themselves to be seduced 
by a desire for dominion, to look out for and 
choose stupid husbands ; the inevitable conse- 
quences of such an improper and imprudent 
choice are disgust, confusion, and the contempt 
of the public. Men who are so poor in spirit as 
not to be capable of acting the part of the mas- 
ter of the house properly, would do better to 
remain single all their life than to render them- 
selves a laughing-stock to their children, their 
domestics and neighbours. I knew a weak 
prince, whose consort exercised such an abso- 
lute control over him, that once when she had 
ordered her carriage to be got ready, he sneaked 
into the court yard to ask the coachman, " If 
he knew whether he was to be of the party." 
Stich a disgraceful want of authority renders a 

1 



224 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

husband extremely ridiculous, and no one likes 
to transact business with a man whose wilj, 
friendship, and manner of judging depends on 
the whims, nods, and corrections of his wife, 
who is obliged to communicate all his letters to 
his governess, and dares not to undertake any 
thing until he has held a curtain-consultation 
with his tutoress. A husband ought not to 
deny his authority even in his civility to his con- 
sort. Even the female sex despise a man who, 
before he can take a resolution, first must con- 
sult with his wife, always carries her cloak, is 
afraid of going into a company where she is not 
present, or must dismiss his most faithful ser- 
vants if his dear helpmate dislike their phy- 
siognomy. 

XXI. THE life of man is interspersed with 
numberless troubles. Even those that seem to 
be the favourites of fortune have frequently to 
struggle with secret sufferings, no matter whe- 
ther they be real or imaginary, unmerited or 
self-created. Very few wives have sufficient 
spirits patiently to bear misfortunes, to give 
good advice in time of need, and to assist their 
husbands in bearing the burthens that must be 
borne. Most of them add to the troubles of 
their consorts by complaining unseasonably, by 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 225 

talking incessantly of the state in which matters 
might be, were the circumstances different from 
what they are, or even sometimes by ill-timed 
and unjust reproaches. If therefore it be any- 
wise possible to conceal trifling misfortunes from 
your wife (adverse incidents of an important 
nature very seldom admit of it,) rather lock up 
your uneasiness in your heart ! besides, it is no 
consolation to a sensible man to make the object 
of his tenderness a sharer in his sorrows ; and 
who would not conceal his grief and expose him- 
self singly to the storms of adversity, if the dis- 
closure of his distress be not only useless, but 
renders his burden more onerous ? But should 
Providence involve you in great distress, or 
afflict you with pungent pains which admit of 
no concealment ; should the iron rod of unre- 
lenting fate or powerful enemies persecute you, 
oh ! then summon your whole firmness, and 
endeavour to sweeten the bitterness of the cup 
of misery which the faithful partner of your life 
must empty with you ! Watch over your hu- 
mour, lest you should add to the affliction of the 
innocent ! Retire to your own apartment when 
your heart grows too heavy, and there ease your 
mind by prayer and giving vent to your tears. 
VOL. i. Q 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

Strengthen and steel your heart by the aid of 
philosophy, by confidence in GOD, hope and 
wise resolutions, and then appear before your 
consort with a serene countenance, to pour the 
balsam of comfort in her soul. No misery in 
this world is endless, and no pain so great as not 
to admit of intervals of alleviation. A certain 
heroism in the struggles against misfortune is 
attended with a pleasure which makes us forget 
the most pungent afflictions, and the conscious- 
ness of liaving administered comfort and conso- 
lation to others elevates our heart in an astonish- 
ing degree, and conveys an unspeakable hilarity 
to the mind. I am speaking from experience. 

XXII. We have laid it down as a principle, 
that a perfect harmony of thinking and temper 
is no necessary requisite of matrimonial happi- 
ness ; it cannot however be denied, that the 
state of a married man is a very lamentable one, 
if the wife take no warm interest at all in mat- 
ters which appear important, and are interesting 
to the husband. We are truly miserable if we 
must look out among strangers for sympathizing 
sharers in our innocent enjoyments and sor- 
rows, and in every thing that occupies our mind 
and heart. I pity the man whose phlegmatic 



OF SOCIAL H*E. 227 

wife mixes water with every drop of joy which 
the hand of rosy-coloured fancy administers to 
his lips ; rousing him from every blissful dream 
of happiness, returning frigid replies to his 
wannest discourses, and destroying the fairest 
creations of his imagination by her want of fel- 
low-feeling. But what is to be done in such a 
situation ? The best advice I can give to un- 
fortunate husbands of this class is, to make use 
of Job's specific, to abstain from moralizing, if 
no amendment is to be expected, to be silent, if 
his words make no impression, and to avoid all 
opportunities that could occasion scenes which 
might enrage him beyond measure, or expose 
him to the danger of seeing his wife's stupi- 
dity publicly ridiculed ! This will enable him 
to enjoy, at least, a tolerable share of negative 
happiness. 

But what is to be done if Fate or our own 
folly should have chained us for ever to a being, 
who, on account of her moral defects or even 
vices, is undeserving of the love and regard of 
good people ; if our consort imbitter our life 
by a morose and vicious temper, and distress us 
by envy, avarice, or unreasonable jealousy ; or 
if she render herself contemptible by a false 
and artful heart, or be given to brutish lust and 

u 2 



229 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

drunkenness ? I need not to observe that many 
an honest man may be innocently involved in 
such a labyrinth of v/oe, if love blind his youth- 
ful judgment ; as the most vicious dispositions 
are frequently concealed, in the bridal state, by 
the most beautiful masks. It is also but too 
well known that many a husband by imprudent 
management occasions the shooting up of vices 
and bad habits, the seeds of which lie concealed 
in the heart of his wife. It would however lead 
me too far from my purpose, were I to give 
rules how to act in every individual situation of 
this kind I shall therefore make only a few 
general observations on that head. In situations 
of such a nature we must pay particular regard 
to the preservation of our own peace, to our 
children and domestics, and to the public. 
Concerning ourselves, I would advise every one 
that is reduced to such a lamentable situation 
not to have recourse to complaints, reproaches, 
and quarrels, if he see that there be no hope 
left of correcting his vicious consort, but to use, 
with as much privacy as possible, such remedies 
as reason, probity and honour shall point out as 
the most efficacious. Act after a well-digested 
plan, devised with as much coolness of temper 
as possible. Ponder well whether a separation 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 

be necessary, or by whatever other means you 
can render your situation tolerable, if it cannot 
be ameliorated, and do not suffer yourself to be 
diverted from the prosecution of the measures 
you have adopted by the semblance of amend- 
ment or caresses. However, never degrade 
yourself so far as to suffer your being tempted 
by tlic heat of your temper to treat your con- 
sort with harshness and severity ; for this would 
be adding fuel to the flame, and render your 
situation worse. Finally, perform your duties 
with additional strictness the more frequently 
your wife transgresses her obligations ; thus you 
preserve a good conscience, which is the best 
and firmest supporter in every misfortune. 
With regard to your children, domestics and 
the public, prudence bids you to conceal your 
affliction as much as possible. Discord between 
married people has always a bad influence on 
the education of their children. Therefore, if 
you cannot conceal your displeasure at your 
consort's temper and conduct, the happiness of 
your children requires you should separate your- 
self from them, and intrust their education to 
the skilful hands of a stranger rather than let 
them be witnesses of your conjugal dissensions. 
The domestics of a married couple, whose disr 



230 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

cord breaks out in open quarrels,, are but too 
apt to revolt against the laws of subordination, 
fidelity and candour ; parties are formed, and 
talebearing is encouraged ; therefore carefully 
avoid quarrelling with your wife in the presence 
of your servants. If public dissensions prevail 
among married people, the innocent party as 
well as the guilty forfeits the regard of his fel- 
low-citizens, which ought to put you on your 
guard not to communicate your domestic mis- 
fortunes to strangers. 

XXIV. Officious friends, old women, aunts 
and cousins are very apt to interfere on such 
occasions. But suffer no person whatsoever to 
intrude upon your domestic concerns without 
your leave. Repel all such officious intruders 
with manly firmness. People of a good dispo- 
sition are reconciled without the interference of 
a mediator, and upon malignant minds his best 
efforts will have no influence. Pray that heaven 
may not curse you with one of those antiquated 
mothers in-law who pretend to know every 
thing better than their children, and want to 
direct under every circumstance though they 
should be destitute even of common sense ; who 
make it their business to breed and to keep up 
quarrels, and to conspire with cooks, house- 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 231 

keepers and chamber-maids to explore, out of 
Christian charity, the secrets of your neighbours. 
Should you however, unfortunately have ob- 
tained such a baneful piece of furniture along 
\vith your wife, I would advise your not omit- 
ting, the first time she attempts to meddle with 
your domestic affairs, to repel her pious service* 
in such a manner as may terrify her from making 
a second attempt of that nature ! But there are 
also good and worthy mothers-in-law, who love 
the consorts of their children with true ma- 
ternal tenderness, give them the best advice, 
and therefore ought to be esteemed a valuable 
acquisition, and venerated as guardian angels or 
a beloved and amiable wife. 

Quarrels between husband and wife ought 
generally to be settled by themselves ; or should 
matters have proceeded too far, before the pro- 
j>er courts of justice, all intermediate instances 
arc dangerous, and all mediators and protectors 
of the suffering party chosen from among 
strangers do more harm than good. The hus- 
band ought to be master in his own house, be- 
ing thus ordained by nature and reason ! He 
must by no means suffer this dominion to be 
wrested from him, and even maintain his ground 



PBAfcTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

firmly when his wiser wife opposes her secret 
power over his heart to his authority. 

XXV. All these rules are, perhaps, appli- 
cable only to persons of the middle class ; peo- 
ple of high rank and great wealth are but rarely 
susceptible of domestic happiness, live generally 
on a very ceremonious footing with their con- 
sorts, and therefore are in want of no other 
rules but those which a polished education pre- 
scribes ; and as they commonly have a system 
of morals of their own, they will find in this 
chapter but very little that suits them. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Rules for Lovers and those that converse ivith 
them. 



SECTION I. 

AT is difficult, if not impossible, to converse 
reasonably with people who are in love ; they 
are as unfit for social conversation as those who 
are intoxicated ; they live only for their idol, 
and care little or nothing for anything else. If 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 233 

you cannot avoid frequenting their society, and 
wish to live on an amicable footing with them, 
you must carry with you a sufficient stock of 
patience to be enabled to hear them talk of the 
object of their tenderness without yawning ; 
and you may be sure to gain their good opinion 
if you can prevail upon yourself to show on such 
occasions an interest for their concerns, or not 
be provoked by their follies and eccentricities in 
case their love should be kept secret, not watch 
them, or appear to have any knowledge of their 
passion, though the whole town be apprized of 
the secret (which is often the case) and finally 
not to irritate their jealousy. 

This being all that I have to say on this sub- 
ject, except a few collateral remarks, which I 
beg leave to subjoin, viz. If you wish for a 
judicious friend who is to assist you with his 
advice, or to interest himself in your behalf 
with firmness and unshaken diligence, you will 
be sadly disappointed in choosing a person who 
is in love. If on the contrary, you be desirous 
to meet with a sympathizing and sentimental 
friend, whom you expect to whine and sigh 
with you, to lend you money without demand- 
ing security, to subscribe to your works, to 
assist you in relieving the distressed, in pacify- 



234 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

ing an enraged father, joining you in the exe- 
cution of some romantic prank, keeping you 
company in your follies, or in applauding your 
verses, you will undoubtedly do well to apply, 
as occasion may require, either to a happy or 
an unsuccessful lover ! 

It would be useless to prescribe rules for 
lovers how to act when they are in company 
with the object of their tenderness ; as these 
people are not often thoroughly collected, it 
would be as great folly to demand of them an 
observance of certain modes in their conversa- 
tion with the object of their wishes, as it would 
be to desire a madman to rage in verse; or a 
person who has the tooth-ache to groan to 
music. Yet surely something may be said, the 
observation of which would prove salutary, could 
it only be hoped that such people would pay 
attention to the dictates of reason. 

III. The first love creates astonishing re- 
volutions in the manner of thinking and the 
whole nature of man. A person who never was 
in love can form no idea of the bliss which 
the conversation of lovers affords them, while 
those that have trafficked too long with their 
heart lose all susceptibility for sensations of that 
nature. 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 235 

The first declaration of love produces most 
wonderful effects. A person who has frequently 
trifled with his heart, and been in love with dif- 
ferent females, will not indeed find it difficult 
to express his sentiments on a propitious op- 
portunity, if he should feel inclined once more 
to pay his devoirs at the shrine of Love ; and 
the coquette knows well enough what answer 
she must return on such an occasion : she pre- 
tends at first not to believe that he is serious, 
apprehends that the gentleman is going to di- 
vert himself at her cxpence, that the reading of 
novels has turned his brains, or if he urge his 
suit with more importunity, and she thinks it 
time for her to be convinced by degrees that he 
is in earnest, she beseeches him in the first in- 
stance to spare her weakness, and not to betray 
her into a confession which would make her 
blush ; then the enraptured lover offers to press 
the sweet charmer to his heart, and protests he 
is the happiest creature in the world, but the 
offended fair one solemnly assures him that she 
will never permit such liberties to be taken with 
her, and very gravely reminds him that the 
laws of probity and honour require that he should 
spare her weakness, while she dispenses her fa- 
vours with the most frugal ceconomy to enjoy 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

the pretty romance the longer ; and if nothing 
will serve to protract the closing scene any fur- 
ther, a quarrel is called to her assistance to put 
off the happy moment in which the last favour 
is to be granted. 

People of this class, however, feel nothing at 
all during their amorous dalliance, laugh at the 
farce when they are by themselves, can calculate 
with the greatest accuracy how far they shall 
have advanced in a day or two, and enjoy a 
sound and undisturbed sleep notwithstanding 
the apparent cruelty of their charmer. 

The case is different with two innocent hearts, 
\vho, being warmed the first time by the genial 
fire of love, wish to give vent to their blissful 
and guiltless sensations, and yet cannot take 
courage to declare by words what their eyes and 
gestures have so frequently and plainly expressed. 
The young man looks tenderly at the object of 
his love. She blushes ; her looks betray an un.- 
easy and flurried mind when he converses too 
long or with too much apparent freedom with 
another female ; indignation flashes in his 
eyes, he scarcely can refrain from giving vent 
to his anger, if with a smiling countenance she 
whisper something to a stranger, and his every 
action upbraids the thoughtless maid ; the re.- 



OF SOCIAL LlPfi. 237 

proach is felt, immediate satisfaction is given ; 
the offensive conversation is suddenly termi- 
nated ; the reconciled lover thanks the atoning 
fair one by a tender smile, and the clouds which 
enveloped his brow are instantly dispelled by 
cheerfulness, accompanied with the most lively 
salliesof jocundity and good humour; assignations 
are made by the eyes for the next day ; the lovers 
mutually beg pardon, exculpate their conduct, 
warn each other against the intrusion of ob- 
servers, acknowledge their reciprocal rights 
and nevertheless have not yet declared by a 
single word what they feel for each other. Both 
parties however arc anxious for an occasion of 
coming to an explanation ; the long-sought op- 
portunity offers at last, presents itself repeatedly, 
and both suffer it to escape unimproved, or at 
most only betray their sentiments by a tender 
pressure of the hand, when a still more favour- 
able unexpected occasion again offers itself, but 
neither dare to utter their sentiments ; they are 
thoughtful, doubt whether their Iqve be re- 
turned, and tremblingly delay coming to an 
ecclaircissementj although their passion be thefa- 
ble of the whole town, and the object of the vilest 
aspersion. When at length the timid confes- 



238 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

sion breaks from the quivering lips, and is re- 
turned with stammering and half stifled words, 
attended by a convulsive pressure of the hand 
that thrills the inmost fibres of the heart, and 
electrifies, as it were, the whole frame ; then 
we begin first to live entirely for each other, 
care little for all the world, are blind to the ob- 
servations and deaf to the whispers of those that 
are near us, are happy in every company where 
the object of our tenderness is present, fear not 
the frowns of misfortune by her side, suspect 
not that sickness, poverty and oppression may 
overtake us on the flowery path of love, are at 
peace with all the world, and care not for the 
comforts of life. You who have seen such 
blissful times, say ! is it possible to dream a 
sweeter, happier dream ? Is one of all the fan- 
tastic joys of life so innocent, natural and harm- 
less as this ? Can any other sensation render us 
so unspeakably happy, so gay and peaceful ? 
What a pity it is, that that blissful state -of in- 
chantmcnt cannot last for ever, and that we are 
awakened but too frequently and too terribly 
from that Elisean trance ? 

IV. In the matrimonial state jealousy is a 
dreadful evil that destroys all peace and happi- 
ness, and every quarrel may be attended with 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 

fatal consequences ; whereas in love, jealousy 
creates variety and additional relish : nothing is 
sweeter than the moment of reconciliation after 
short quarrels, and such scenes serve to cement 
the union more strongly. Bat dreadful is the 
jealousy of a coquette, and you ought to trem- 
ble at the vengeance of a woman whose love 
you have scorned, or for whom your heart has 
ceased to be interested, if she continue to covet 
the possession of your person, no matter whe- 
ther she be actuated by wanton desires, vanity 
or caprice ! She will persecute you with furious 
ire, and no kindness on your part, no forbear- 
ance, no secrecy with regard to your former 
connexion, nor all the civilities which you pay 
her in public will save you from the dire effects 
of her frantic passion, particularly if she have not 
learnt to fear von. 

c 

V. MYSOGYNISTS declaim loudly, that the 
fair sex do not love half so faithfully and firmly 
as man does ; that vanity, curiosity, delight in 
romantic adventures, or the calls of sensual 
wants are the onlv charms which attract them 
to our sex, and that we can count on female 
fidelity only while we can gratify one or the 
other of these passions and propensities, as time 
and occasion require ; while others are of a dii- 



24O PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

ferent opinion, and paint in the most charming 
colours the firmness, cordiality and fire of the 
female heart which is animated with love. The 
former impute to the fair sex a larger share of 
sensuality and irritability than of nobler senti- 
ments, and pretend that no married man ought 
to believe his wife if she assure him that she 
possesses a cool temper ; whereas the latter 
maintain that the purest and most sacred love, 
destitute of all sensual desire, nay even of pas- 
sion, can animate only a female bosom in its 
intire fulness. I leave those to decide on the 
merits of this subject, that possess a greater 
knowledge of the female heart than myself. I 
shall not venture to give my opinion on this 
delicate point, though I have been an attentive 
observer of the other sex during a long and fre- 
quent intercourse with them. Thus much how- 
ever I can presume to maintain, without injury 
to either sex, that men cannot pretend with any 
colour of truth to surpass women in fidelity and 
fulness of love. The history of every age 
affords numerous instances of women who, 
scorning all difficulties and dangers, were 
attached with the most surprising and unshaken 
firmness to their lovers. I know of no greater 
felicity than that which flows from such a cordial 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 241 

and unconquerable love. Thoughtless minds 
are to be met with as well amongst men as 
amongst women; the whole human race are 
subject to the desire of change; new impres- 
sions, produced by a superiour degree of ami- 
able qualities, no matter whether they be real 
or imaginary, can supplant the liveliest senti- 
ments; but I am almost tempted to say that 
instances of infidelity are more numerous 
amongst men than amongst women, but are less 
noticed and make less noise than those of female 
inconstancy ; we are more difficult to be fet- 
tered for ever than the other sex, and it would 
indeed be an easy task for me to state the real 
causes of this phenomenon, did not the scope of 
the present work prevent me from discussing 
this point. 

VI. TRUE and congenial love enjoys secretly 
the blessings which attend it, and refrains not 
only from priding itself with favours received, 
but also scarcely dares to acknowledge to itself 
the whole extent of its happiness. That period 
in which we have not yet disclosed our love by 
words, though we understand the mystic mean- 
ing of every glance and every look of the be- 
loved object, affords the happiest moments of 
congenial and pure felicity. Those joys are 

VOL. t. R 



142 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

most enrapturing which we bestow and receive 
without accounting for them to our under- 
standing. The delicacy of our feelings fre- 
quently prevents us from speaking of favours 
which lose their greatest value, and can no 
longer be reciprocated with propriety when 
they are made subjects of discussion. We 
grant silently what we are bound to refuse if it 
be requested, or if it be visible that it is granted 
premeditatedly. 

VII. IN those years in which the heart is 
but too apt to run away with the understanding, 
many a thoughtless young man lays the founda- 
tion of his future misery by a rash promise of 
marriage. He recollects not in the trance of 
love how serious and important such a step is, 
and that this is the most difficult, dangerous 
and indissoluble of all obligations which we can 
take upon ourselves. He unites himself for 
life with a being who appeared in his eyes 
blended by passion, to be gifted with qualities 
which experienceand the light of sober reason dis- 
cover to him to have been merely delusory, when 
too late he perceives that he has rendered him- 
self unspeakably miserable by trusting to appear- 
ances ; or he does not consider that such an 
union adds to the wants, cares and labours of 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 243 

life, and is forced to struggle by the side of a 
beloved wife with want and sorrows, and 
doomed to feel all the blows of adverse fate with 
double force; or he breaks his promise, if his 
eyes be opened before the indissoluble knot be 
tied, and then he is tortured by the reproaches 
of a polluted conscience But of what use are 
sober advice and prudent counsel in the moment 
of mental intoxication ? As for the rest, I refer 
my readers to the XIV and XV sections of the 
following chapter. 

VIII. IP love and intimacy have attached 
you to an amiable woman, and your bonds should 
be dissolved either by adverse fate or incon- 
stancy and fickleness on one part, or any other 
cause, the laws of honour demand of you not to 
act ungenerously after the connexion hasceased. 
Do not suffer yourself to be tempted to take a 
disgraceful revenge, nor to make an improper 
use of letters and the confidence that was placed 
in you. The man who is capable of aspersing 
the character of a female who once was dear to 
his heart, deserves the contempt of every honest 
mind ; and how many who in other respects 
are not over amiable, owe the favour to accom- 
plished women, to approved discretion and deli- 
cacy ! 

R2 



244 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

CHAPTER VIII. 
On Conversation with the Fair Sex. 



SECTION I. 

XJEFORE we proceed further I must observe, 
that the notice which I am bound to take of the 
defects of the female character in general, is in 
nowise meant to depreciate the numerous good 
qualities which we discover not only in indivi- 
duals, but also in the whole sex. To be silent in 
respect of the former in order to give the greater 
lustre to the latter is the practice of a venal flat- 
terer, a part for which I profess myself wholly 
unqualified. Most writers however, who speak 
of the female sex, seem to be particularly solici- 
tous to descant only on their defects, which 
system likewise equally militates against my 
purpose. An authour who writes on the con- 
versation with men, cannot avoid glancing at 
those defects which we must tolerate and spare 
if we wish to preserve Social Happiness. Either 
sex, every rank and age, and every individual 
character is subject to a variety of defects which 
are so intwined with his nature as to appear 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 245 

inherent. The scope of this work requires I 
should speak of them as far as my knowledge 
renders me competent for the task ; and my 
readers I presume will find that I am not blind 
to the virtues which render the conversation 
between men and women, old and young people, 
the wise and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, 
a source of pleasure and happiness ; nor that I 
mean to praise or censure any class at the 
expense of its opposite. Thus much by way 
of preface to this subject. 

II. NOTHING is more adapted to give the 
last polish to the education of a young man than 
the conversation with virtuous and accomplished 
women. Their society serves to smoothe the 
rough edges of our character and to mellow our 
temper. In short, the man who has never been 
connected with females of the better class is not 
only deprived of many of the purest pleasures, 
but also will have little success in Social Life ; 
and I should not like to be connected by the 
bonds of friendship with a man who has a bad 
opinion and speaks ill of the female sex in ge- 
neral. I have spent the happiest hours of my 
life in the society of amiable women ; and if I 
have any commendable qualities, or if after 
having been deceived so frequently by men and 



246 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

fickle fortune, bitterness, vexation and resent- 
ment have not expelled benevolence and love 
from my soul, I owe the whole entirely to the 
salutary impressions which female conversation 
has made upon my mind. 

III. WOMEN possess a peculiar facility in 
discerning those men who sympathize with 
them, feel interested in their conversation, and 
can accommodate themselves to their tone. We 
should be very unjust were we to maintain, that 
personal beauty only can produce lively impres- 
sions upon their minds ; the contrary being fre- 
quently the case. I know young men of the 
most striking personal appearance who are very 
unsuccessful with the fair sex, while those whose 
form is far from being handsome are great fa- 
vourites with them. There is a peculiar method 
of rendering ourselves agreeable to the sex, 
which can be learnt only of themselves ; and 
the man who is ignorant of it will never succeed 
in ingratiating himself with them, how great so- 
ever his personal and mental accomplishmentsbe. 
There are men who shamefully abuse the power 
which they possess of pleasing the ladies ; 
those that are trusted with adult daughters, and 
being allowed at all times free access to the un- 
suspecting fair, having first acquired the sem- 
1 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 247 

blance and character of harmless creatures, arc 
permitted to sport the most wanton jokes, and 
frequently indulged with opportunities which 
prove lamentable preludes to certain and bitter 
repentance. The abuse of that art however 
does not condemn its proper application. A 
small tincture of female gentleness, though not 
degenerating into unmanly weakness ; favours, 
but neither so great nor so particular as to at- 
tract public notice, or demand greater in return, 
nor yet so private as to be overlooked, or not at 
all valued ; polite marks of attention on trifling 
occasions, which scarcely admit of thanks, and 
consequently convey no obligation, seem to be 
free from pretension, yet nevertheless are under- 
stood and valued ; a kind of ocular language, 
though very different from amorous ogling, 
which is understood and felt by a tender and 
sensible heart without requiring the assistance 
of words ; a nice delicacy in displaying certain 
.sentiments ; a free and open conversation, which 
must never degenerate into impudent and vul- 
gar familiarity ; at times a look of soft melan- 
choly ; a certain romantic enthusiasm which 
borders neither on the sentimental nor the ad- 
venturous ; modesty without timidity ; intre- 
pidity, courage and vivacity ; agility of body, 



248 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

skill, nimbleness and pleasing talents these, I 
think, arc most conducive to gain us the favour 
of the fair sex. 

IV. THE consciousness of being in want of 
protection, and the belief that man is a being 
\vho can afford it, is also implanted by nature 
in the mind of those women who have firmness 
and resolution enough to protect themselves. 
For this reason even ladies of a meek and gentle 
disposition feel a kind of aversion from men 
who are weak and infirm. They have the ten- 
derest compassion for suffering people ; as for 
instance for wounded or sick persons, but 
habitual and lasting infirmities, which impede 
the free use of bodily and mental faculties, will 
undoubtedly deprive you of the affection of 
even the most chaste and modest woman. 

^ V. THE ladies have frequently been ac- 
cused of feeling a particular interest for liber- 
tines and rakes. If this be true, I cannot see 
why it should be so very reprehensible as many 
seem to think. If the consciousness of their 
innate weakness render them more tolerant than 
we are, this does honour to their heart : how- 
ever, it is but just to confess that we are actuated 
frequently by envy to censure such happy cri~ 
minals j whereas we arc secretly pleased with a 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 24Q 

Lovelace, and other polished rakes, when we be- 
hold them only on paper and on the stage. 
The cause of this phenomenon originates, most 
probably, in an obscure sensation, which tells us 
that deviations of this sort require a certain acti- 
vity and energy which always create interest. 
As for the rest, it has been observed that most 
ladies are tolerant only to handsome men and 
ugly women. 

^ VI. I must also observe, that cleanliness 
and elegance of dress serve very much to re- 
commend us to the ladies, and that they are 
very kecnsighted in discovering the smallest in- 
attention in these particulars. 

VII. AVOID paying homage in a similar 
manner to several ladies at one time and in the 
same place, if you be bent on obtaining the 
affection and favour of an individual female ; 
they will forgive us trifling acts of faithlessness, 
nay, they will sometimes like us the better on 
that account ; but at the moment in which we 
are speaking to them of our sentiments, we must 
feel what our lips utter and show that they are 
the sole object and cause of our sensations. All 
is over if they perceive that we address our ten- 
der discourses to every woman who comes in 



25O PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHT 

our way ; for they are desirous to possess our 
affection undivided. 

VIII. Two ladies who have pretensions of 
the same nature, no matter whether they be 
founded on beauty, learning, or any other ac- 
complishment, agree but rarely in the same 
company ; yet they may at times be recon- 
ciled in some degree ; but if a third, who has 
the same pretensions, should unfortunately join 
their circle, we must give up all ideas of check- 
ing the rising tempest, which inevitably M ill 
break out on the slightest occasion. 

Therefore, take particular care in the pre- 
sence of a lady who pretends to superiour talents 
or anything else of that nature, not to praise 
another too much for the same accomplishments, 
especially if the latter be a rival of hers. All 
persons who are conscious of their internal merit 
and have a desire to shine, particularly ladies, 
are apt to wish to be admired exclusively, no 
matter whether it be on account of beauty, 
taste, talents, or any other superiour quality. 
Therefore, never speak of the likeness which 
you perceive in the lady with whom you are 
conversing and her children, or any other per- 
son. The ladies have sometimes singular 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 251 

whims, and it is frequently difficult to know 
what ideas they have of themselves, and how 
they wish to look. One affects simplicity, in- 
nocence and artlessness ; another presumes to 
possess grace, a noble air and dignity of deport- 
ment ; a third delights to be told that her 
features express a great deal of meekness and 
good nature ; another wishes to be thought 
firm, manly and high-spirited ; one pretends to 
look very sickly and nervous, while another re- 
joices to be told that she has a healthy and fresh 
appearance. This weakness is trifling and in- 
nocent, and you will do well in accommodating 
yourself to such singularities. 

IX. MOST ladies wish to be constantly 
amused, and an entertaining companion is fre- 
quently received better by them than a worthy 
and grave man whose conversation is graced 
with wisdom, but who prefers being silent to 
engaging in idle talk. No subject, however, 
is more entertaining to them than their own 
praise, if it be uttered in a proper manner. An 
aged matron will not be angry with you if you 
discover traces of former beauty in her features ; 
and many a mother of adult children will not 
deem it an offence to be mistaken for her 
daughter. It is generally a dangerous matter 



252 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

to speak of the age of a lady, and if you be wise 
you will not touch this subject at all. If you 
know the art of giving them an opportunity of 
appearing to advantage, your society will be 
agreeable to them, though you should not be 
able to amuse them much. But is not this the 
case, more or less, with all men ? All mortals 
are pleased to shine, but women in particular, 
because we nourish their vanity from their in- 
fancy, and but seldom give them an opportu- 
nity of seeing their own defects in a proper 
light. 

X. CURIOSITY is a prominent feature of the 
female character, and prudence requires we 
should pay some attention to it in our conversa- 
tion with the other sex, and endeavour to pro- 
voke, to amuse and to satisfy it as circumstances 
require. It is most singular to observe how far 
this propensity sometimes will carry them. 
Even the most compassionate of their sex have 
frequently an irresistible desire to see scenes of 
horror, executions, operations and the like, to 
hear horrid stories and to view objects which 
the firmer man cannot behold without aversion. 
For this reason they are, in general, particularly 
fond of reading such novels, and to see such 
plays as are crowded with horrid incidents and 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 253 

dreadful apparitions. For this reason some of 
them have so strange a desire to explore the 
secrets of others and to pry into the actions of 
their neighbours, though malice, envy and 
jealousy be not always the motive by which 
they are actuated. Lord Chesterfield says; 
" If you wish to ingratiate yourself with women, 
" trust them with a secret !" He means, indeed, 
only with one of no great importance. But 
why only with a trifling one ? Are not many 
women more discreet than men ? All depends 
upon the object of the secret. 

XI. EVEN the most excellent women are 
more changeable in their humours and less con- 
sistent at all times than men in general. This 
arises from the greater irritability of their nerves, 
which renders them easier to be affected, and 
from the weakness of their frame, which exposes 
them to many unpleasant sensations of which 
we have no notion. Be not therefore asto- 
nished, my friends, if you think, you do not 
meet every day with the same degree of sym- 
pathy and love in the object of your affection. 
Bear patiently with these transient humours, 
but take care not to intrude upon them in such 
moments of irritability and ill-temper, to tor- 
ment them with your wit or to offer unseason- 



254 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

able consolation. Endeavour to find out what 
they like best to hear in every particular disposi- 
tion of mind, and wait patiently for the moment 
when they are sensible of the value of your in- 
dulgence and forbearance, and disposed to atone 
for their errors. 

XII. The female sex sometimes find a cer- 
tain pleasure in teazing others, and giving un- 
easiness even to those persons who are dearest 
to them. This also is the effect of their hu- 
mour, and not of a bad and malignant dispo- 
sition. If you bear these transient bursts of ill- 
humour with patience and good-nature, and 
are careful to avoid widening the trifling dif- 
ference into a formal breach by passionate be- 
haviour, the fair tormentor will-, soon atone for 
the injuries which you suffer by additional 
kindness, and you will obtain one claim more 
to her affection. 

XIII. In such and all petty contentions 
and differences with the other sex we must yield 
them the triumph of fhe moment, and be care- 
ful of not exposing them to ridicule ; their va- 
nity for this would never forgive us. 

XIV. It is almost needless to repeat here 
what has been asserted already so often, that 
the resentment of an ill-tempered and malig- 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 255 

nant woman is dreadful, cruel and extremely 
difficult to be appeased. It indeed almost sur- 
passes belief how expert such furies are in find- 
ing out means to torment and persecute an ho- 
nest man, by whom they conceive themselves 
to have been offended, how implacable their 
hatred is, and in how mean and degrading a 
manner they sometimes satisfy their thirst for 
vengeance. The author of this observation has 
had the misfortune to experience this in a most 
painful degree. A single thoughtless step of 
his early youth, bv which the pride and vanity 
of a woman, who had injured him first, were 
offended, was the cause of his meeting with in- 
surmountable difficulties and opposition where- 
ever he afterwards was obliged, by his fate, to 
apply for assistance and protection. The fiend- 
like malignity of that woman instigated calum- 
niators of the blackest cast to precede him with 
the foulest aspersions, to oppose all his actions, 
and to ruin every plan which he formed for the 
benefit of his family. The greatest prudence 
and circumspection were incapable to ward off 
the effects of her hatred, and even his public 
acknowledgment that he was sensible of the in- 
jury which he had offered her, was insufficient 
to reconcile her revengeful spirit. This impla- 



256 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

cable woman ceased not to persecute him, until 
at last he resigned every thing that rendered the 
assistance of others necessary, and confined 
himself entirely to a domestic existence, of which 
she cannot rob him. And that woman is a 
princess, who has it in her power to render 
thousands happy, and has been gifted by nature 
with the most excellent abilities and uncommon 
personal charms. 

As for the rest, we observe in general, that 
the weaker are always more cruel in their ven- 
geance than the strong, because, perhaps, the 
consciousness of that weakness renders the sense 
of the injury which they suffer more acute, 
and makes them more eager to find an oppor- 
tunity of trying their strength, for once at 
least. 

XV. A PHILOSOPHICAL tFeatise of Professor 
Meiners on the question, " Whether it be in 
our power to fall in love, or to resist the influ- 
ence of this passion at pleasure ?" leaves me 
little room for hoping that I shall be able to 
say anything new on the means which we must 
use to preserve our liberty in . our conversation 
with amiable women. Love, indeed, is a sweet 
tormentor, which surprises us when we are least 
aware of it, and in consequence commonly 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. 257 

begin to counteract it when it is too late ; yet 
it is but too often attended with bitter suffer- 
ings and the ruin of all peace and happiness ; 
for hopeless love is one of the most dreadful 
evils, and external relations sometimes throw 
insurmountable obstacles in the way even of 
the noblest and tenderest inclinations ; it will 
be useful, particularly for a person whom nature 
has gifted with a lively temper and a warm ima- 
gination, to endeavour to obtain a certain de- 
gree of dominion over his sensibility and feel- 
ings, and if he find himself unequal to the task 
to flee the temptation. To be beloved and 
incapable of returning love for love is extremely 
distressing to a feeling heart ; it is a dreadful 
situation to love without having any hope of 
success ; and it is sufficient to fill the heart 
with black despair when we are doomed to reap 
infidelity and imposition for faithful and un- 
bounded affection. The man who has found 
out infallible means to obviate all this, has dis- 
covered the philosopher's stone -I confess I 
have not ; and know no other than timely 
flight. 

XVI. There are villains who have so little 
regard for the virtue, probity and peace of their 
fellow-creatures, as not to scruple seducing in- 

VOL, i. S 



258 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

nocent and inexperienced girls by insidious 
arts, or at least to delude them by false expecta- 
tions, and even by the promise of marriage ; 
thus procuring for themselves some moments of 
transient gratification, but afterwards abandon 
the unhappy victims of their sensuality, who on 
their account declined every other connexion, 
and are but too often ruined for life by the in- 
famous duplicity of such unprincipled wretches. 
The ignominy of such conduct must be obvious 
to every one that has the least spark of love for 
honour and justice left in his bosom ; and for 
those that are entirely destitute of these feelings 
I do not write. There is, however, another 
kind of conduct, which in its consequences is 
no less dangerous, though it be not equally 
criminal in point of motive ; and I must beg 
leave to address a few words of admonition to 
my readers respecting the same. Many of our 
sex are of opinion, that the conversation with 
young ladies cannot be at all interesting unless 
they flatter their vanity, or let their words and 
gestures bespeak a certain degree of warmth 
and affection. This serves not only to nou- 
rish the already too great propensity of the 
other sex to vanity, but also induces them to 
mistake every peculiar degree of attention which 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 259 

we show them for an offer of marriage. The 
fop is not sensible of this, or if he should per- 
ceive it is too thoughtless to reflect on the con- 
sequences such an error may produce; he 
relies upon the consciousness of having never 
intimated such an offer in direct terms ; and 
when he ceases paying his court to the deluded 
fair one, she is rendered as unhappy as if he 
had imposed upon her with the utmost preme- 
ditation. The poor forsaken girl pines away 
while disappointed hope rankles in her heart, 
and the heedless and unthinking youth pays 
similar addresses to others, without even suspect- 
ting the mischief he has done. 

Another class of men destroy the peace of 
inexperienced females either by irritating their 
curiosity and sensuality by wanton discourses 
and a luxuriant wit, or heating their imagina- 
tion by instilling into their mind romantic ideas, 
diverting their attention from those objects with 
which they ought to occupy themselves agreeably 
to their calling, destroy ing their sense of domestic 
felicity, or rendering a young and simple coun- 
try girl dissatisfied with her situation by amusing 
her imagination with a seducing picture of the 
pleasures of a town-life. A& I do not write 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

merely to teach how we may be an agreeable, 
but also how we must act to become an useful 
companion, I conceive myself called upon by 
my duty to warn against such conduct ; and 
believe me, my young friends, all good and care* 
ful parents will bless you, and cheerfully admit 
you to their daughters ; nay, they will think 
themselves happy in uniting their only child with 
you if yon follow my advice, and thus ac- 
quire the character of a prudent and conscien- 
tious young man. 

XVII. HERE I ought to say a few words 
on the conversation with coquets and seducing 
females; but as this subject presents a wide field 
for observation, and having great reason to 
apprehend that my labour would be attended 
with little success, shall therefore be very con- 
cise. The snares which a young man has to 
dread are innumerable; and I advise my readers 
to flee that class of females like the plague. 
These reprobates are uncommon adepts in the 
art of dissimulation, of lying with the greatest 
impudence, and of affecting the most amiable 
sentiments to gratify their vanity, sensuality, 
vengeance or any other passion. It is extremely 
difficult to discover whether a coquet loves 
you really on your own account. Even the 
3 



OF SOCIAL LIFE. l6l 

most unequivocal instances of disinterestedness 
are no certain proofs that such an abandoned 
woman loves you sincerely. She rejects, per- 
haps, your silver to obtain the easier possession 
of yourself and your gold; or her temper renders 
her more eager to gratify her sensuality than to 
satisfy her thirst for lucre. Should she have 
resisted many temptations to impose upon you 
with safety, displayed a tender care for your 
fame and honour, should she not only never 
attempt prevailing upon you to break off other 
more natural and honourable connexions, but 
rcadiiy'sacrifice to you beauty, youth, gain, splen- 
dour and vanity ; this would prove nothing else 
but that even a coquet at times may possess 
some good and amiable qualities, and prudence 
would nevertheless demand you to be on your 
guard and not to trust her too implicitly. A 
woman who disregards chastity and modesty, 
the first and most sacred of all female virtues, 
cannot possibly have any regard for more delicate 
duties. I do not however mean to degrade all 
unhappy, fallen and seduced females to the 
contemptible class of coquets and prostitutes. 
True love can frequently call an erring heart to 
virtue. It has been often maintained that a 
ivoman who knows the danger from experience, 



2()2 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

is more difficult to be seduced than another who 
has never been led into temptation ; however, 
this kind of deviation renders sincere amend- 
ment at all times very precarious, and no situa- 
tion is more humiliating and distressing for a 
sensible man, than to sec the person dear to his 
heart despised by others, and to have reason to 
blush at the bonds which are sucred to him and 
constitute the happiness of his life. As for the 
rest, pure and virtuous love is the best guar- 
dian of our innocence, and the conversation 
with chaste and accomplished women purifies 
the juvenile sense for virtue, and arms the heart 
of a young man against all studied and lustful 
artifices of seducing females. I must observe 
on this occasion, that it is extremely hard and 
unjust, that men should scruple so little in excu- 
sing all manner of libidinous excesses committed 
by those of our own sex, while we are disincli- 
ned to forgive the least deviation from the path 
of virtue of which a person of the other sex is 
guilty, who from their earliest youth are tempted 
by our artifices to listen to the voice of sin, and 
to give way to the powerful allurements of 
seduction. 

It is frequently maintained that every woman 
can be seduced ; should this assertion be deemed 



OF SOCIAL LIPS. 26j 

true ; or should we scout the idea as rank ca- 
lumny ? It is but justice to confess, this can be 
denied as little as that the virtue of every son of 
Eve is liable to give way, if his weak side be 
attacked, and internal as well as external cir- 
cumstances come to the aid of the artful seducer. 
But what does this prove ? It proves no more 
than we all are frail vessels. If we at the same 
time consider, that the senses of the other sex 
in general are more irritable than ours, and if 
we reflect upon the powerful charms of seduc- 
tion, flattery, curiosity and vanity with which 
they arc constantly beset, and that even the 
smallest spot of that sort cannot escape obser- 
vation, because they have no civil relation, and 
cannot palliate their deviations by those higher 
virtues which our situation and connexion with 
the state enable us to exhibit, it would be highly 
unjust not to have patience with them, or to 
censure every false step into which they are be- 
trayed by our sex with too much severity. But 
let us dismiss this subject, and turn ourselves 
to a higher class of females to the learned 
ladies. 

$ XVIII. I CANNOT but acknowledge that I 
am always seized with a kind of shivering, 
\s hen I am placed in company near a woman 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

who pretends to learning. It is to be wished 
that the ladies would consider, that nothing 
renders them more amiable and interesting 
than to see them strictly adhere to the sim- 
ple destination of nature, and anxious to dis- 
tinguish themselves by a faithful performance 
of the duties of their calling. What will it 
avail them to attempt rivaling men in pursuits 
for which they are unequal, and of which they 
are frequently uninformed of the first rudiments, 
which are inculcated into boys as soon as they 
begin to use the faculty of reasoning. There 
are ladies who very often put professed men of 
learning to the blush by the penetration and 
acuteness of their judgment, by their uncom- 
mon talents, exquisite accomplishments, their 
philosophical turn of mind and clearness of 
expression and diction. But how small, compa- 
ratively speaking, is the number of such ladies, 
and how wrong, would it be to deduce from 
these exceptions a general rule ! Besides it is an 
indispensable duty of every friend to domestic 
and Social Happiness, not to encourage midd- 
ling female geniuses to aspire, at the expense of 
their own felicity and that of others, at a height 
which- so few of them are capable of attaining. 
It undoubtedly is laudable in a lady to cndca- 



OP SOCIAL LIFE, 1&5 

your rendering her conversation and stile of 
writing graceful by study and the assistance of 
chaste and elegant literature ; but it certainly 
cannot be inferred from this, that a woman is 
to range through all the numerous branches of 
learning. It ever creates pity if not disgust, 
when we hear such infatuated pretenders to 
learning boldly decide upon those important 
subjects of erudition, which for centuries have 
baffled the laborious study of the most eminent 
of the literati, who have not been ashamed to 
confess their being unable to comprehend them 
perfectly ; and to hear an infatuated woman 
decide upon them at tea-table, in the most 
peremptory manner, while she scarcely has a 
clear idea of the subject in question, cannot fail 
exciting the strongest emotions of pity and con- 
tempt. Nevertheless, the crowd of fops and 
admirers pays the most extravagant applause to 
the uncommon knowledge of the learned lady, 
thereby confirming her in her unfortunate infa- 
tuation. Thus being led to look upon the most 
important concerns of her family, upon the edu- 
cation of her children and the good opinion of 
her unlearned acquaintances and connexions as 
mere trifles, believing herself intitled to shake off 
fhc yoke of domestic subordination, slighting 



PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

all other women, rendering herself and her hus- 
band odious, and dreaming incessantly of ideal 
worlds, her imagination opposes the dictates of 
sound reason, and all the domestic affairs are 
thrown into disorder and confusion ; the vic- 
tuals are brought upon table cold or half raw; 
debts are heaped upon debts ; the, poor husband 
must go abroad with torn stockings; when he 
pants for the enjoyment of domestic pleasures, 
his learned helpmate entertains him with quota- 
tions from pamphlets, magazines and reviews^ 
or presses him to listen to a recital of her lame 
verses, and reproaches him severely with being 
insensible of the inestimable value of the trea- 
sure which to his torment he is blessed with. 

I hope the candid reader will not tax me with 
having drawn this picture with too mnch aspe- 
rity. Amongst the fifteen or twenty authoresses 
who make the press groan from time to time 
with the productions of their pens, I know of 
scarcely half a dozen who being confessedly 
geniuses of a superior class, have a real calling 
to cultivate the field of literature ; and these 
ladies are so amiable, neglect their domestic du- 
ties so little, and are so sensible of the ridiculous 
behaviour of their half-learned sisters, as to give 
ttie sufficient reason to be persuaded, that they 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 

will not think themselves pointed at or offended 
by the picture which I have delineated in the 
antecedent lines. 

But may it not also be said of the authours of 
our sex, that but few of the great number of our 
present writers have a real claim to excellency ? 
Undoubtedly ! But we must observe, that some 
allowance ought to be made to the latter, as 
they may be misled by a desire for fame or gain, 
which cannot well be admitted as an excuse for 
the former, when they, with indifferent talents 
and destitute of sufficient knowledge, venture 
on a career which neither nature nor the civil 
constitution has assigned to them. As for the 
conversation with ladies who pretend to learn- 
ing, it is obvious that if this claim be founded 
on solid erudition, it must be extremely pleasant 
and instructive ; but concerning those that 
intrude themselves upon the republic of litera- 
ture, notwithstanding their poverty of spirit, I 
can give no better advice than to have patience 
with their deplorable infatuation, and to take 
care not to controvert their bold assertions by 
arguments, or to attempt reforming their taste 
if you cannot demean yourself so much as to 
encrcase the servile herd of their admirers. 

XIX THE female sex possess in a much 
1 



268 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY 

higher degree than we do the gift of concealing 
their real thoughts and sentiments. Even ladies 
of less refined faculties are sometimes uncom- 
mon adepts in the art of dissimulation. There 
are instances in which this art affords them pro- 
tection against the snares with which they are 
beset by unprincipled men. The seducer may 
be certain of succeeding when he sees that the 
heart or sensuality of the ladies league with him 
against their own principles ; it would therefore 
be unjust to censure them for appearing some- 
times different from what they really are ; yet 
we ought not to overlook this in our conversa- 
tion with the fair sex. We should be frequently 
mistaken were we to believe that they are 
always indifferent to those whom they treat 
with visible coolness, or that they are at all times 
particularly interested for others whom they 
seem to distinguish, and with whom they con- 
verse familiarly in public. They have fre- 
quently recourse to that artifice for no other 
purpose than concealing the real state of their 
heart, and sometimes it is only the effect of 
their humour or obstinacy, or intended merely 
to torment a little the object of their affection, 
To decypher the character of a woman com- 
pletely requires a profound study of the female 



OP SOCIAL LIFE. 

heart, a long intercourse with the most accom- 
plished persons of the sex ; in short, more than 
the scope of these sheets permits me to say. 

XX. I shall not enlarge upon the precau- 
tion which the conversation with antiquated co- 
quets requires ; nor shall I say anything with 
regard to the prudes and devotees with whom a 
man, as I am told, may take greater liberties in 
private than in company, and with whom a. 
close and entcrprizing man, as the wicked world 
pretends, succeeds best. I shall also not say 
anything of those antiquated gossips who, out 
of mere charity and piety, expose the character 
of their neighbours and acquaintances from time 
to time, and consequently whom we must not 
provoke I shall be silent about females of that 
description, because I should be sorry to chal- 
lenge the resentment of these good ladies, and 
take this opportunity of declaring that I do not 
believe a word of the calumnies with which a 
wicked world asperses their immaculate honour. 

XXI. Before I conclude this chapter, I beg 
leave to say a few words more on the happiness 
which flows from the conversation of good and 
accomplished women. I have already observed, 
that I owe to the conversation with them the 
happiest hours of my life, and, indeed, I have 



270 PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY, &C. 

reason to acknowledge it. Their tender sensi- 
bility, their ability to divine and comprehend 
every thing so quickly, to read the sentiments 
of the heart in the countenance ; their nice 
sense of those little favours which contribute 
so much to sweeten life, their charming and 
artless wit, their frequent and uncommonly just 
judgments, unbiassed by learned, systematic 
and prejudiced opinions ; their inimitably ami- 
able humour, interesting even in its ebbs and 
floods ; their patience in long and painful suf- 
ferings, though they should in the first moment, 
when the affliction comes upon them, distress 
their consorts by complaints; the gentleness with 
\\hich they comfort, nurse and forbear ; the in- 
nocent loquacity and frankness with which they 
enliven society all this I know and esteem ; 
and which ought, I think, to convince the candid 
reader, that the few observations I was bound 
to make to the disadvantage of some of the 
fair sex, did not originate in censoriousness or 
malice. 



END OP THE FIRST VOLUME. 



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